Rescuers enter colliery shaft to search trapped miners in Xinjiang

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Following 20 days of continuous water pumping work, rescuers on Saturday morning started entering a mine shaft to search for the 21 trapped workers in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

A total of 11 pumping devices had pumped out 800,000 cubic meters of water, nearly 20 times the shaft volume before rescuers could enter, said Nan Shenghui, head of the expert team at the headquarters handling the accident.

The flooding occurred on April 10, when 29 workers were upgrading the shaft of Fengyuan Coal Mine in Hutubi County. Eight miners were lifted out of the shaft safely. Twenty-one others were trapped at three different sites underground.

A total of 13 experts in drilling, geological prospecting, colliery rescue and other fields were organized to join in the rescue. Eight rescue teams from across the country have been in place to realize rescue operations around the clock underground, said Zhou Yilin, a rescuer.

Rescue equipment was urgently mobilized from Beijing and provinces of Jiangsu, Shanxi and Gansu.

Moreover, the rainy and snowy weather led to loose rocks from the mountains nearby the mine, increasing the difficulties in the rescue operation.

A temporary hospital that can treat 30 patients has been established at the site, and on-the-spot medical workers have been carrying out rescue rehearsals every day recently.

The coal mine is located in a natural coal mine belt in the northern part of the Tianshan Mountains, some 160 km from the regional capital Urumqi. 

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