Fourth mine disaster in July traps 24 workers

BEIJING – The flooding of an iron ore mine in East China trapped 24 miners underground late Sunday.

It was the most recent disaster in a spate of mine accidents that have occurred in the country this month, local authorities said on Monday.

Rescuers on Monday send pipes into a flooded iron ore mine where 24 miners are trapped in Weifang city’s Fangzi district, in Shandong province. The accident occurred at about 11 pm on Sunday after rain had fallen for several days. Zhu Zheng / Xinhua

By Monday afternoon, 24 miners remained unaccounted for as rescuers struggled to ascertain their whereabouts underground and install pipes to pump water out of the flooded mine in Weifang, a city in East China’s Shandong province.

Floodwaters began to gush into the shaft at about 11 pm on Sunday from a nearby pit, which had collected more than 20,000 cubic meters of water, or enough for 10 Olympic swimming pools, reported Xinhua News Agency.

The pit was filled after rain had fallen frequently on places around the mine in the past few days, the man said. The pit later collapsed, leaking its contents into the mine shaft.

Thirty-one miners were working in the shaft when the accident occurred. Seven of them escaped; the rest were trapped underground.

Local authorities said they sent more than 300 rescuers to the site and installed two pumps to lower the water level in the shaft.

Hindering their work, though, was sludge brought into the shaft by the floodwaters. The sludge mixed with the water in the shaft and interfered with the operation of the pumps.

Despite the shaft’s narrowness, the rescue workers continued to put in place more pumps and pipes, according to officials at the rescue operation’s headquarters.

That additional equipment enabled them to pump water at a rate of 180 cubic meters an hour.

Other rescuers stood by ready to descend into the mine once the water level was low enough to give them safe entry.

The mine belongs to the Zhengdong Mining Company.

The disaster there on Sunday was the fourth large mine accident to occur in China in the past 10 days.

In Shandong province’s Zaozhuang city, 28 coal miners were trapped on Wednesday after a fire had broken out in the mine shaft they had been working in.

In South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, rescuers continue to search for 12 workers who have been stranded in a collapsed coal mine since July 2.

Meanwhile, rescue work is under way in Guizhou province, where an underground flood trapped 23 workers at a coal mine the same day 

Source: China Daily

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