A total of 172 were still trapped in a flooded coal mine in east
China's Shandong Province
although a levee breach
that was blamed for the flooding was closed up early Sunday
More than 2,000 Chinese People's Liberation Army troops, armed
police and miners managed to close up the levee breach on the
swollen Wenhe River at 3:38 a.m. Sunday.
The flooding occurred at around 2:30 PM Friday in the coal mine
of Huayuan Mining Co. Ltd in Xintai City, about 150 kilometers
south of Jinan, the provincial capital.
A total of 756 miners were working underground at the time of
the flooding and 584 managed to escape.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered late
Saturday all-out efforts into the rescue work, and asked rescuers
to "promptly mobilize equipment and personnel resources available
and take all necessary measures to rescue the trapped miners".
Torrential rain swept Xintai on Friday and early Saturday with a
precipitation of 232 millimeters, triggering flash flood and a
50-meter breach in a levee on the Wenhe River.
Floodwater from the river poured into the coal mine at 2:30 p.m.
Friday via an obsolete shaft and caused the accident.
Most of the trapped workers were from rural areas in Tai'an City
and surrounding areas, said Wang Junmin, vice governor of
Zhang Yulin, a worker with a nearby coal mine, said he was
called up to close the breached levee at around 3:00 AM on Saturday
together with others.
Authorities have summoned high-power pumps from the provinces of
Henan, Hebei and Shanxi to speed up pumping operation.
The rescue headquarters ordered all coal mines near the banks of
the Wenhe River to stop production and evacuate all miners.
Residents in the low-lying areas downstream were also told to
get prepared to evacuate.
Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety,
is at the site overseeing rescue efforts. He ordered a speedup of
water pumping operation and "try every means to rescue the trapped
The work safety watchdog issued on Saturday an emergency notice
urging coal mines to draw lessons from the Huayuan mine accident
and immediately take preventive measures against
Huayuan Mining Co. Ltd is a licensed enterprise with an annual
capacity of 750,000 tons. The flooded mine was built in 1957.
In a separate accident in Xintai, nine people were trapped in
the Minggong coal mine after it was flooded at around 8:00 PM
Friday because of the rainstorm.
Ninety-five people were working underground at the time of the
flooding, and 86 managed to escape.
Earlier this month, all 69 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine
in central China's Henan Province for three days were rescued in
one of the most successful rescue operations in coal mine accidents
(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2007)