While public outrage has still not settled over the alleged cover-up of a fatal gold mine explosion in North China in June, a gas explosion happened early Thursday morning in Northeast China trapped 39 miners.
A local safety official said there is little chance for the trapped miners to survive.
The Fuqiang Coal Mine in Jiangyuan County, in Northeast China's Jilin Province, was hit by a major gas explosion at 2:12am on Thursday, leaving 39 miners trapped underground and feared dead.
The official said rescue work was still going on but refused to give further details.
The mine and the county authorities were not available to detail rescue procedures and at press time, no further official releases about the disaster were available.
The State Administration of Coal Mine Safety Thursday decided to send an official to join the province's rescue team.
But the source with the administration was not informed about the rescue arrangements at the mine.
At the gold mine explosion in Fanshi County in North China's Shanxi Province, rescue experts said more bodies are expected to be unearthed when clean-up of the destroyed mine is completed.
Police are searching for the mine operators who hid the bodies of 37 miners killed in the explosion.
The owners of the privately run mine initially claimed that the blast 11 days ago claimed the lives of only two people, .
At least 40 miners were working underground at the time of the explosion when a fire ignited 3.6 tons of explosives.
Wang Quanquan and Yin Shan, who have operated the mine since March, are now on the run after the discovery of bodies in six separate places up to 10 kilometers from the Yixingzhai village gold mine.
Police have detained seven people suspected of involving in concealing the miners' bodies.
A reward of 120,000 yuan (US$14,457) has been offered for information leading to the capture of four other suspects still at large.
Fourteen bodies were found on Sunday in two locations. Another 20 bodies were found on Monday in four locations near a river 10 kilometers south of the mine.
Some of the bodies were concealed in disused brick kilns, while others had been hastily buried in gullies. Four of the bodies were cremated.
An investigation team consisting of 200 people from the central and provincial governments has been sent to the area.
Relatives of the dead miners have been brought to Fanshi to identify the bodies.
Meanwhile, in another disaster in Shaanxi, rescue work is still going on and the condition of the 15 miners who are trapped deep underground in a coal mine is as yet unknown.
The miners, employees of a private coal mine in Hancheng County in eastern Shaanxi Province, were trapped in the mine by a backup of water caused by a sudden storm on Tuesday night. Rescue work got under way quickly, according to Yu Yingzhong, deputy director of the mine.
The incident occurred at about 11:30pm on Tuesday.
Shaanxi's Deputy Governor Gong Deshun, who is in charge of the province's safety work, went to the mine on Wednesday and at present more than 200 workers are engaged in the rescue effort.
(China Daily July 5, 2002)