|Liu Mingquan, the first miner rescued among the 29 miners trapped underground, is seen at the Batian coal mine in Xiaohe Town of Weiyuan County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Nov. 22, 2010. Twenty-nine miners, who were trapped in the flooded Batian coal mine on Nov. 21, were successfully rescued Monday. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)
WEIYUAN, Sichuan, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-nine miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in southwest China's Sichuan Province for 25 hours were successfully rescued Monday.
Water inundated the Batian Coal Mine in Weiyuan County at 11 a.m. Sunday when 35 miners were working underground. Thirteen of the miners managed to escape by themselves while 22 were trapped.
After the flooding, deputy mine manager Cheng Ronghui and the general foreman Zhang Hongliang led a team of seven into the mine in an attempt to rescue the remaining 22 miners. However, the rescue mission failed and they themselves became trapped.
Cheng said, "I had no time to get changed when I heard the mine flooded and seven of us rushed to the scene to rescue people."
When Cheng led the group into the mine and despite the bottom of the mine being submerged, the trapped miners could still move on the air bridge inside the mine pit and the safety tunnel was in use.
Cheng stated the he had "heard more miners were trapped at other locations, so we went to find them and told them to stay or move to the upper sides. After we found all trapped miners, it was too late to escape. The safety tunnel was also submerged so we could only wait."
Cheng then went on to say that both he and Zhang told the other miners not to panic and helped them to remain calm while waiting for the rescue teams.
A 51-year-old miner, Hu Wenyu, was working underground when the accident happened. He recalled, "At first I smelled something strange and I thought maybe the gas leaked. But later I heard water flooding in. The water came in fast and submerged my shoulders in only ten minutes. I was nervous until I saw Cheng as they led us to safer places to wait for the rescue."
While all trapped miners waited anxiously underground, the rescue teams, loaded with equipment, were rushing to the mine. Two large-scale pumps were transported to the scene from the provincial capital of Chengdu. Officials said it only took three hours to install the pumps.
"The first pump began to work at 2:30 a.m. Monday, and the second one started to work at 8:30 a.m. Together, they pumped out 500 cubic meters of water per hour," Lin Shucheng, director of the provincial work safety bureau said.
After pumping water out of the mine, a second group of rescuers entered the mine Monday afternoon and successfully rescued all 29 trapped miners.
The rescued miners displayed no signs of injury but appeared weak. They were immediately taken to the No. 2 Hospital in Neijiang City and the People's Hospital in Weiyuan County, according to medical workers.
A member of the rescue team said on a live TV broadcast the water in the mine came up to his neck.
"The miners were nervous and excited. I told them they were safe," the unidentified rescuer said. "I am so happy we rescued all the miners."
Rescuers pulled the first miner out at about 12:25 p.m. The general foreman, Zhang Hongliang, the last to be rescued, was pulled out at around 1:18 p.m.
"All the rescued miners will receive the best medical treatment in the hospitals," said Li Chengyun, deputy governor of Sichuan Province, who was at the scene with other government officials to guide the rescue work.
29 trapped in China mine all alive
CHENGDU, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers said Monday 29 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in southwest China's Sichuan Province are all alive.
Rescuers are pumping water from the flooded pit and the water level has fallen 73cm by 9:30 a.m. local time, the emergency rescue headquarter said. Full story