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Rescuers enter Chinese mine where 153 are trapped

Rescuers enter Chinese mine where 153 are trapped

The first group of rescuers and divers entered a flooded Chinese mine where 153 workers have been trapped for almost a week yesterday, while no further signs of life came from underground since tapping was heard the previous day.
Seven rescuers and four divers entered the mine in the early afternoon, the state-run China Central Television reported. The first team is expected to explore conditions underground before more rescuers are sent.
Rescuers had cheered Friday after hearing the tapping noises and possibly shouting. Television footage showed them tapping on pipes with a wrench, then cheering and jumping after hearing a response. They lowered pens and paper, along with glucose and milk, down metal pipes to the spot where the tapping was heard.
But nothing new had been heard as of yesterday noon, said Wen Changjin, an official with the news center set up at the site. The governor of the northern province of Shanxi had ordered rescuers to enter the mine by that time.
It was not immediately clear what risks rescuers would be taking by entering the Wangjialing mine, where 3,000 rescuers were working nonstop to pump out water. Wen said the water level underground had dropped by 5.4 meters as of noon Saturday.
Reporters for state television read out letters that had been sent underground to the trapped miners, urging them to be patient.
Government officials say the mine flooded last Sunday afternoon when workers digging tunnels broke into an old shaft filled with water. But experts said it could still take days to reach the miners - and their survival depended on whether they had decent air to breathe and clean water to drink.
"They're doing probably the only thing they can do, which is to pump water as fast as they possibly can," David Feickert, a coal mine safety adviser to the Chinese government, said Friday. He said some mines have rescuers trained as divers for cases like this. "But from the sound of it, there's too much water in this mine and they're not sure where people are."
The flood was one of three coal mine accidents in China within a week. A gas explosion Wednesday in the central province of Henan killed 19 and left 24 trapped, and nine people died Thursday in northwestern Shaanxi province.


Updated : 2021-05-16 23:43 GMT+08:00