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Flood traps 69 in mine
30/7/2007 9:45

Sixty-nine workers were trapped after a coal mine was flooded in central Henan Province yesterday.

The flooding occurred about 8:30am at the Zhijian coal mine in Shaanxian County, about 200 kilometers west of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, an official with the county government said.

An all-out rescue bid has been launched.

The mine, built in 1958, is a state-owned facility operated by the Zhijian Mining Co Ltd.

It has a designated annual production capacity of 210,000 tons, but actually produces 300,000 tons every year.

The flood was initially believed to have come from the bed of a nearby river through a mined-out area. It is believed that 3,000 cubic meters of water poured into the shaft.

A dual task force, headed by Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, and Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, rushed to the mine to oversee rescue operations.

The two safety watchdogs ordered rescuers to organize water-pumping facilities and "try every means" to speed up efforts.

They also asked rescuers to use the ground ventilation system to supply wind to the flooded mine and drill holes from the ground to the shaft where miners are trapped to ensure enough oxygen.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with fatalities reported nearly every day in fires, explosions and floods despite government efforts to improve safety.

Deadly accidents are often blamed on mine owners who disregard safety rules.