Rescuers are maintaining phone contact with 69 miners who have been trapped in a flooded coal mine in central China's Henan Province
since Sunday morning.
Experts are trying to send food and drinking water through the 800-meter-long ventilation pipes to the miners. The miners were working underground when a flood triggered by rainstorms hit the region at around 8:40 a.m. on Sunday.
The trapped miners have not reported any injuries to rescuers through the fixed line phone. At 3:00 PM they asked for food and water.
The area where the miners are trapped is dry. They still have electricity but ventilation was poor, according to reports.
Just 33 of the 102 miners working underground at the time managed to escape from the Zhijian Coal Mine, located in Shanxian County, Sanmenxia City, about 200 kilometers west of Zhengzhou, Henan's provincial capital.
Reports indicate that the floodwater came from a nearby river.
Hundreds of rescuers, including armed police, are struggling to prevent more water from entering the shaft. They are clearing away the silt, providing ventilation and oxygen to the trapped miners.
This state-owned mine was established in 1958. Designed to produce 210,000 tons of coal a year, its actual annual output is 300,000 tons.
Senior officials have arrived at the site to oversee rescue work. Xu Guangchun, Secretary of the Henan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, Li Chengyu, Governor of Henan, Li Yizhong, Director of the State Administration of Work Safety, and Zhao Tiechui, Director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, are currently at the scene.
(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2007)