The chances of survival for 57 miners who were trapped in a flooded coalmine on Thursday night in north China's Shanxi Province are increasingly slim, but rescue officials remain optimistic.
"The utmost task is to drain the flood water from the pit," said Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, who rushed to the site after the accident occurred.
Rescuers are draining as much as 1,200 cubic meters of water an hour using all 14 pumps erected at the site.
Maps of the Xinjing Coal Mine in Zuoyun County show that there are elevated parts of the underground shafts, and if the miners are trapped there, it is possible that they are still alive, according to rescue experts.
In another accident in Chongqing Municipality on Sunday, three miners were confirmed dead and nine others saved after a natural gas explosion.
A third accident took place in Beijing's Fangshan District last Thursday when a mine caved in trapping five miners, reported the local Fazhi Wanbao newspaper.
Rescuers have found the bodies of all five miners, officials with the Beijing Bureau of Work Safety said yesterday.
Investigations into the causes of all three accidents are still underway, officials said.
(China Daily May 23, 2006)