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Work-related Accidents, Deaths Mount as Week Ends

Last Thursday's fluorite mine flood in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has claimed the lives of all eight trapped miners.

Wang Shihua, deputy director of rescue operations, declared the last missing miner dead on Thursday afternoon, although teams continue to search for his body. "There is no place in the tunnel where the miner could have survived, and no signal for help has been heard," Wang said.

Desperate but futile efforts to locate him had continued for 180 hours. Rescuers believe that the body might be buried somewhere in the tunnel.

Wang Yingfu, head of the investigation team from the regional government, said that the teams might have to give up the search.

The accident took place at the Jinfeng Fluorite Mine in Chifeng at about 10:00 AM on March 31, when water poured into the 750-meter-long shaft following a cave-in. Nine miners were working underground at the time and only one escaped.

In southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, a gas explosion at a coal mine belonging to the Tianfu Mining Company killed one man immediately and trapped 22 others underground. The blast occurred at about 2:00 PM on Tuesday.

By Thursday, rescue teams had located 16 bodies, but seven miners remained missing.

The local government organized rescue operations but the high density of gas inside the tunnels slowed their efforts. More than 40 people were working to restore ventilation and rescue operations were expected to conclude Friday morning.

The Chongqing Administration of Coal Mine Safety Supervision is investigating the cause of the accident. Police have reportedly detained suspects, but the number and their names were not provided.

In Shanghai, one person was killed and another injured in an accident at Baoshan Iron and Steel Co. (Baosteel) on Thursday.

The accident occurred when the supporting structure of two furnaces in one of the workshops burned through. The liquid steel -- with a temperature of up to 1,000 degrees ℃ -- gushed out and caught fire, according to the Shanghai fire brigade.

Two firefighting teams were immediately called in and had the fire under control three hours later.

Firefighters said one person was killed and another badly hurt.

The injured person was sent to the nearby Baosteel Hospital, then transferred to Changhai Hospital after preliminary cleaning of the wounds, said a doctor from Baosteel Hospital.

A company spokeswoman surnamed Zhang said the worker was not badly injured but refused to release more details about the accident or the dead worker.

Baosteel is China's largest iron and steel conglomerate. It ranks sixth in the world, with annual output of 20 million tons.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily April 8, 2005)

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