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Chinese work safety agency on Monday said that rescuers were seeking for 153 coal miners who were trapped underground after a flood of water swept through the tunnels.

The accident happened on Sunday afternoon at Wangjialing Coal Mine in Shanxi province, northern China. People say that the accident would be one of the worst in recent years if rescuers are not able to rescue the unlucky workers in the mine and would mark the failure of safety improvements in China’s deadly mines.

According to a statement made by China’s State Administration of Work Safety on Monday, 108 out of 261 workers were rescued or able to escape from the mine when the flood of underground water swept through.

In a televised news conference, chief engineer with the work safety bureau in Shanxi province Liu Dezheng said that the agency had sent pipes and pumping equipments to the site and that rescuers were pumping water out of 2000m3 storage tank the mine. People can see a scene of workers pushing trolleys loaded with water pipes toward the mine and a row of ambulances standing at the ready on the China Central Television.

In the wake of the flood, President Hu Jintao asked local authorities to try their best in effort of saving the 153 trapped workers.

The number of workers missing after flood swept through the mine at first was reported as 123 Sunday night, but then that jumped to 153 overnight. It was not immediately clear why there was such a change.

Wangjialing Coal Mine is the co-owned company of the China National Coal Group Corp. and the Shanxi Coking Coal Group Co. who are major coal miners of the country.

According to statistics from the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, accidents stole the lives of 2,631 coal miners in 2009 and 6,995 others in 2002. This means that about more than 7 miners die every day, down from 19.1 in 2002.

The two worst accidents happened to coal workers were in eastern Shandong province in August 2007 and in northeastern Liaoning province in February 2005 in which 172 and 214 miners were respectively killed.

Author Box GILLIAN WONG has 1 articles online
GILLIAN WONG is writer of the Associated Press. He is working at the agency’s office in China.

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