Source Pravda.Ru

Beijing investigating coal mine flood; 123 miners missing

Chinese government ordered an investigation to unveil what had caused a flood at a coal mine in southern China, where the 122 miners are still trapped underground.

One body was recovered from the Daxing Coal Mine in Guangdong province on Wednesday.

Only four miners managed to escape alive after the tunnel 480 meters (1,575 feet) underground became inundated with an estimated 15 million to 20 million cubic meters (530 million cubic feet to 700 million cubic feet) of water on Sunday.

China's Cabinet has ordered Li Yizhong, the head of the country's safety watchdog, to set up a team to investigate the cause of the disaster at the mine in Huanghuai, Meizhou City, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with thousands of deaths reported each year in fires, floods and other disasters. The government has repeatedly promised to tighten the enforcement of safety standards.

The Daxing mine was operating without a license and despite a government ban on mining in the area following a flooding incident at another facility on July 14.

"As far as I know, almost all mines here are privately owned and have no production or safety licenses," the official China Daily newspaper quoted 25-year-old miner Luo Dingjie from a nearby colliery in Xingning county as saying.

Luo said there were about 10 mines in Huanghuai township.

Xinhua said authorities ordered a ban on mining across the province this week to facilitate safety inspections.

Authorities have detained 11 officials in connection with the accident, including the owner, a manager, board chairman and chief technician of the mine. Two mayors who had jurisdiction over mines in the area have been suspended.

A miner and an official from the Xingning City Coal Industry Bureau were also given disciplinary warnings for failing to perform their duties during rescue efforts.

Xinhua said efforts to rescue or recover the bodies of the 122 miners still trapped underground were set to continue Thursday, but quoted unnamed officials as saying that it would be "almost impossible" for any of them to have survived this long.

Some 610 family members were waiting anxiously for news at hotels in nearby Huanghuai Township late Wednesday, Xinhua said. The miners were mainly from Guangdong, but some came from neighboring Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, Xinhua said.

Rescue officials have been unable to explain what triggered the flood.

Meanwhile, officials confirmed the deaths of 15 miners trapped in a flooded shaft in Jiangxi province more than a month ago, Xinhua said. Five bodies were found after the July 7 accident at the licensed mine in Shangli County. The name of the mine was not given, the AP reports.

Rescuers and relatives of the victims agreed to stop searching for the 10 remaining miners after a survey of the underground conditions determined that there was no way they could have survived, the report said.

Families of the miners each received compensation of between 170,000 yuan and 190,000 yuan (US$21,000-US$23,000; Ђ17,000-Ђ18,500), it said.

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