HUAINAN, Anhui, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-seven people remain trapped after a blast in a coal mine in east China's Anhui Province early Tuesday, the rescue headquarters said.
The accident occurred at 3:58 a.m. in the Dongfang Coal Mine in Xiejiaji District of Huainan City, when 39 miners were in the underground shaft, said Wu Zhiyong, deputy director of the district's work safety supervision bureau.
Twelve workers were lifted out of the mine after the blast. One of them was hospitalized after suffering burns. Twenty-seven others remain trapped underground.
Rescue work is under way but has encountered difficulties after part of the coal mine tunnel collapsed following the blast, Wu said.
Bai Fafu, a conveyor operator who narrowly escaped, said he ran when he realized there was smoke around him and signaled the danger to another conveyor operator Wu Ketang.
"There was no time for panic. I just ran as fast as I could. The smoke thickened quickly," he said, adding that very soon he could only see an arm's length in front of him and made several wrong turns during his escape.
Bai said he didn't hear any explosion. "The mine is very deep. Some miners were working 100 meters below me," said he.
Liu Jiawang who was 330 meters below ground when the accident occurred heard no explosion either. "I just felt a blast of abnormal wind under my feet," said he.
Having escaped safely, both Bai and Liu had tried to contact the trapped workers but could not get through.
The licensed mine is privately owned and has an annual capacity of 90,000 tonnes.
The Huainan municipal government ordered all coal mines to suspend production on June 30 and July 1 due to the flood season, but the mine did not obey the order.
The cause of the accident is being investigated.
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