A serious gas explosion rocked a coal mine in Fangzheng County, in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, on Saturday, killing one person and trapping 33 underground, according to the local administration of Coal Mine Safety Supervision.
Altogether, 36 night-shift miners were working 450 meters underground, when the devastating gas explosion took place at 4:40 am.
The rescue team, which included medical workers and police, was assembled and rushed soon to the scene.
At the time of printing, two miners had been rescued and one body found, but the other 33 miners are still missing. The fire underground has continued to burn, hampering rescue efforts.
Last night's China Central TV News reported there was little hope that the remaining miners would be recovered alive.
The central authorities are gravely concerned about the accident and have ordered the local government to make an all-out bid to save the lives of miners in the pit and try to minimize casualties.
Major local leaders have rushed to the site to organize the rescue work. The exact cause of the accident is still being studied.
In neighboring Jilin Province, the bodies of another two victims at a local mine had been found on Saturday, confirming the death of all eight miners who were trapped underground in an explosion on Friday.
The other six bodies were reached a few hours after the accident. The cause of the accident was not yet available, according to a local source.
(China Daily January 13, 2003)