China Mining Accident: 7 Miners Rescued, 50 Still Trapped

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CHINA MINING ACCIDENT
In this image taken from TV, rescuers move an injured miner into the light, at the Qianqiu Coal Mine near to the city of Sanmenxia in central China's Henan province Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. | AP
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BEIJING — Rescuers pulled 44 more miners to the surface Saturday, more than 36 hours after they were trapped following a cave-in at a coal mine in central China, and were working to rescue the final trapped miner, state media reported.

The rescues came after seven other miners were pulled out alive Friday from the mine in the city of Samenxia in Henan province. Eight miners were killed in Thursday night's accident.

Saturday's rescue was the biggest in the country since April 2010, when 115 miners were pulled out alive after being trapped for eight days in a mine in northern China.

State broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers with helmets and oxygen tanks carrying the miners out of the mine shaft to ambulances. The miners lay on stretchers, wrapped with blankets with their eyes covered by towels to prevent them from being damaged by the sudden exposure to light after hours of being trapped.

CCTV said the rescue work had been hindered by large amounts of coal dust thrown up by a rock explosion in the mine, which happened shortly after a small earthquake near the mine.

Fourteen miners managed to escape when the accident happened, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Following the accident, at least 200 workers dug a small rescue tunnel about 1,650 feet (500 meters) deep to try to reach the trapped miners, the People's Daily newspaper said.

The mine belongs to Yima Coal Group, a large state-owned coal company in Henan, the State Administration of Work Safety said on its website.

Luo Lin, head of the administration, said a magnitude-2.9 earthquake occurred near the mine shortly before a "rock burst" was reported.

The phenomenon occurs when settling earth bears down on mine walls and causes a sudden release of stored energy. The exploding chunks of coal and rock, or the shock waves alone, can be lethal.

China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world, although the industry's safety record has improved in recent years as smaller, illegal mines have been closed. Annual fatalities are now about one-third of the high of nearly 7,000 in 2002.

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