BEIJING, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — A gas outburst occurred at a coal mine in central China on Sunday morning, killing seven workers, local authorities said on Monday. Meanwhile, rescue workers have rescued eight workers at another mine where they were trapped for more than three days.
The accident occurred at around 6:45 a.m. local time on Sunday at the Xiangzhong Coal Mine in the city of Lianyuan, located in Hunan province, when miners were carrying out drilling work underground. A total of 46 people were working at the mine at the time of the accident.
Seven of the miners were killed as a result of the gas outburst while the others managed to escape safely, city officials said in a brief statement. Other details about the accident were not immediately released, but an investigation is underway.
Also on Sunday, rescue workers successfully freed eight miners who had been trapped for more than three days at another coal mine in the central region of China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Three miners were pulled out early Sunday morning at around 1:40 a.m. local time, while a fourth survivor was pulled out some nine hours later. They were seen on local TV being transported on stretchers with thick cloths covering their eyes. At approximately 6:20 p.m. local time, another four miners were rescued.
The accident happened last Wednesday at around 6 p.m. local time when 40 people were working underground at the Qielichong coal mine in Sandu township, located near the city of Leiyang in Hunan province. Twenty-four people managed to escape safely, but the remaining sixteen people were trapped.
On Saturday night, rescue workers confirmed at least eleven of the sixteen trapped miners were still alive. Seven of those miners were rescued on Sunday, while the eighth survivor had not previously been contacted. The fate of the remaining four workers was still unclear on Monday.
The mine workers who were rescued on Sunday were rushed to local hospitals after receiving first-aid at the scene. Their conditions were not immediately known, although they were not believed to be in a life-threatening condition.
Wednesday’s flooding was not reported to local authorities until about 6:30 a.m. local time on Thursday, more than 12 hours after the incident happened. It was not immediately clear why officials were not alerted to the incident, and police have arrested mine owner Liu Yaping while an investigation continues.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that four teams of rescue workers arrived at the scene on Thursday morning and were able to drain the mine of flood water and resume ventilation in the shaft within hours. The rescue work continued on Friday morning, but there had been little hope of finding survivors until Saturday.
Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years but they remain among the world’s most dangerous with at least 289 fatalities in the first quarter of this year. There were a total of 1,973 fatalities in 2011, 2,433 fatalities in 2010 and 2,631 in 2009, according to official figures.