Source AP ©

Almost 70 Chinese miners trapped in flooded coal mine still alive

Almost 70 miners trapped in the flooded coal mine in central China are reportedly still alive, Chinese news agencies say Monday.

"The 69 miners are in a safe place and their mood is stable," China News Service reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency said that the miners talked with authorities via a fixed line telephone and reported no injuries but requested food and water. Attempts were being made to send supplies to them through an 800 meter (2,624 foot) long ventilation pipe.

Xinhua said the area where the miners was dry and had electricity but that ventilation was poor.

The 69 were trapped when the Zhijian mine in Henan province's Shan County flooded early Sunday. Thirty-three miners managed to escape right away.

Rescue workers have set up pumps to suck water out of the mine and are also pumping in air, Xinhua said.

Earlier Monday, heavy rains had hampered rescue efforts by triggering landslides on both sides of the mountain road leading to the mine.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that authorities in Linfen, a city in the northern province of Shanxi, were investigating whether mine managers at the Liziping Coal Mine deliberately covered up a July 5 flood that left nine workers dead. An anonymous tip sparked the probe, it said, without giving specific details.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with fatalities reported nearly every day in fires, explosions and floods despite government efforts to improve safety.

Deadly accidents often are blamed on mine owners who disregard safety rules and fail to invest in required ventilation, fire control and other equipment.

In another area of northern China, five coal mine managers were sentenced last week to up to life in prison for an explosion that killed 26 miners. Authorities said the managers kept the mine running in defiance of orders to close.