Rescuers Dig for Trapped Guizhou Miners


2004.09.07
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HONG KONG — ; Rescue workers in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou were digging frantically to rescue 10 miners trapped in a collapsed mine-shaft at the Liuhe coal mine. A doctor at the scene, identified by his surname Liu, told RFA’s Mandarin service that the water had now been pumped out of the shaft of the privately owned coal-mine, which used largely unskilled peasant labor.

"I didn't understand the training. If there’s an accident, that will be the boss’s responsibility. We go to work at 7 a.m. and knock off at seven in the evening. We don't have a day off on Sundays or public holidays. We can earn a few hundred yuan a month doing this."

Shafts pumped dry

“We haven’t rescued them yet. The water has been pumped out of the shaft, but the roof has collapsed. The people are caught in the collapsed rubble. Now they are digging into it,” Liu said.

Local officials said county and township level leaders were at the scene directing rescue operations.

“Rescue operations are still under way. No, we haven’t [got them out] yet. It’s a cooperative coal mine, several dozen employees, all of them farmers,” one township official said.

A chance of survival

Some workers had managed to flee the flooding when they heard water in the shaft. They told police their colleagues were probably trapped above the water level in the shaft.

“Those people are actually above the water level,” an officer at the local police station told RFA on Tuesday. “There’s a good chance that they’ll still be alive.”

The accident occurred in the early hours of Sunday, just one day after a gas explosion killed 10 miners at the Andesheng coal mine in the same county.

No day off

One Andesheng mineworker told RFA that the miners had had safety training lasting a week before the accident but that he had not properly understood what was taught him.

“I’m a farmer. I started mining to earn money. You can’t earn money working the land. Our land isn’t enough to support us,” one Andesheng miner told RFA.

“I didn’t understand the training. If there’s an accident that will be the boss’s responsibility. We go to work at seven in the morning and knock off at seven in the evening. We don’t have a day off on Sundays or public holidays. We can earn a few hundred yuan a month doing this.”

In the first six months this year alone, 3,758 people died in mine accidents in China, according to the government’s State Administration for Work Safety.

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