At least 123 miners, and not the previously estimated 102, have been trapped in the Daxing Coalmine in south China's Guangdong Province since it flooded on Sunday afternoon, a senior local official said on Tuesday.
"An additional 21 miners were added to the missing persons list that was announced on Monday," You Ningfeng, vice governor of Guangdong and head of rescue operations, said.
"Currently, they are trapped about 480 meters underground. The chances of survival for the trapped miners are slim. They've been down there for more than 55 hours," You added.
Nevertheless, Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong, pledged: "If there is even a tiny hope, we will spare no efforts in rescuing the trapped miners."
The incident occurred at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, when an estimated 15 million to 20 million cubic meters of water gushed into the mineshaft. Only four miners managed to escape.
"I can't remember anything about the sudden flooding," Zeng Huanbiao, one of the survivors, said from his hospital bed.
The 30-year-old miner, who was washed out of the pit, now suffers from respiratory pneumonia and breathing difficulties. He also sustained injuries to his kidneys and lungs, according to a physician in charge of his treatment.
Rescue headquarters set up at the site announced the names of missing miners on Tuesday morning. Those missing come mainly from Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, and Xingning City.
At present, four pumps are working round-the-clock and five high-power ones are to be installed soon.
The local government had ordered all mines to stop production after a similar accident only a month ago. But owners of the Daxing coalmine ignored the order.
"The latest flooding in Daxing is a grave example of non-adherence to production safety," Zhang Dejiang, secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, said at a conference held in Guangzhou on Tuesday.
Zhang blamed the accident on the operators of Daxing and the local departments' inadequate management of coalmines.
"A thorough examination of all local mines should be launched immediately and those who fail to meet the national production safety standards must be closed," Zhang said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2005)