BEIJING – Rescuers were racing Monday to reach 28 people trapped while doing safety work in in southern China, the latest accident in the world's deadliest mines.
Forty-one workers were underground at the small, privately owned Batian mine in the southwestern province of Sichuan when it flooded early Sunday, said an official surnamed Xie with the provincial work safety bureau.
He said 13 workers escaped and rescue work was under way to locate the 28 missing. It was not clear what caused the flooding.
A county-level work safety official said Monday that no rescues had been made overnight, and the 28 were still believed trapped. He refused to answer additional question and hung up before giving his name.
Xie said pumps to remove the water were on the way to the mine in Neijiang city. An estimated 141,000 cubic feet (4,000 cubic meters) of water was in the mining pit, he said.
"We still have hope of finding them alive," Xie said late Sunday.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Batian had stopped production and was being upgraded to increase its annual capacity from 50,000 tons to 60,000 tons. The workers had been underground for safety work, it said.
Though most of China's mining accidents occur in small, illegal mines, Xinhua quoted Lin Shucheng, chief of the provincial work safety bureau, as saying Batian's operation was legal and fully licensed.
China depends on coal for 70 percent of its energy production and its mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in in 2009 alone. - By CARA ANNA, Associated Press (YahooNews)