China rescues 32 miners after 23 hours in flooded shaft
Rescue workers pulled 32 miners from a flooded coal shaft in central China on Tuesday after they were trapped underground for 23 hours, state media said.
The miners rescued from the Gaomendong mine in Henan's Jiaxian county, near the city of Pingdingshan, were all in poor health and were rushed to a local hospital for treatment, the official Xinhua news agency said, according to dpa.
One other miner pulled out of the shaft had already died and another remained missing, the agency quoted Pingdingshan city government spokesman Dong Yuxi as saying.
The 800 rescuers were still searching for the missing miner, while police had detained the owner on suspicion of illegally operating the mine.
"Although the mine's production license is valid until November 2009, the mine was undergoing a technical innovation for expansion, which has yet to be approved for resuming production," Wang Dexue, a deputy head of the State Administration of Work Safety, told the agency.
Water flooded into the shaft early Monday as 42 miners were underground, trapping 34 of them.
But the owner did not report the accident for two hours and had earlier failed to report that miners had seen water seeping into the mine, the agency said.
The mine was only licensed for 28 people to work at one time and safety officials attributed the accident to "mining against operation procedures and loose supervision of production," it said.
The township-level mine was licensed to produce up to 60,000 tons of coal annually.
Accidents kill an estimated 10,000 people annually in Chinese mines. The accidents are often triggered by outdated equipment and poor safety measures with many occurring at illegal mines.