All 29 trapped in China mine alive, being rescued

14:23 | 22/11/2010
All 29 people trapped in a flooded China coal mine are alive and rescuers have started pulling them to safety, state media said Monday, in a rare bit of good news for the accident-prone mining sector.

China Central Television broadcast live images of people being taken from the colliery in Sichuan province on stretchers to ambulances, just one day after the flood hit.

The official Xinhua news agency said 22 of those being rescued were miners, while the other seven were people sent down after the accident in an initial bid to rescue them.

At least 35 miners were working in the coal mine near the city of Neijiang when the flood hit, but 13 managed to escape, reports said.

AFP was not immediately able to contact provincial and local safety officials for comment.

The scene marked a rare positive outcome for China's notoriously dangerous coal-mining sector, which is regularly hit by deadly accidents blamed on the flouting of safety rules as operators try to keep costs down.

The rescue in October of 33 Chilean miners after more than two months underground sparked criticism in China of the Chinese government's inability to prevent such accidents or rescue stricken miners.

Last year 2,631 Chinese miners died at work, according to official statistics, but independent labour groups say the true figure is likely to be much higher as many accidents are believed to be covered up.

The government has repeatedly vowed to shut dangerous mines and strengthen safety, but the accidents continue with regularity as mines rush to pump out the coal on which China relies for about 70 per cent of its energy.

AFP

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