53 rescuers pulled out of southwest China mine, 5 workers trapped

July 29th, 2012 - 1:23 am ICT by BNO News  

PU’AN, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — Fifty-three rescuers were pulled out after being trapped in a mine where five miners remain missing in southwestern China, local authorities said Friday.

The group of fifty-three rescuers were deployed on Thursday to the Anlilai Coal Mine located in Pu’an County in China’s Guizhou Province where five miners were reported trapped.

The rescue teams were digging a tunnel to reach the miners on Thursday morning when the mine collapsed, trapping all 53 workers. Emergency teams went on to dig up a new tunnel and successfully pulled out the rescuers around six hours later.

The first collapse occurred on Wednesday, trapping five miners who are still missing over 32 hours since the accident occurred.

Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years but they remain among the world’s most dangerous with 1,083 fatalities in the first seven months of 2011 alone. There were 2,433 fatalities in 2010 and 2,631 in 2009.

China in recent years shut down scores of small mines to improve safety and efficiency in the mining industry. The country has also ordered all mines to build emergency shelter systems by June 2013 which are to be equipped with machines to produce oxygen and air conditioning, protective walls and airtight doors to protect workers against toxic gases and other hazardous factors.

The first manned test of such a permanent underground chamber was carried out in August when around 100 people - including managers, engineers, miners, medical staff, and the chamber’s developers - took part in a 48-hour test at a mine owned by the China National Coal Group in the city of Shuozhou in northern China’s Shanxi Province.

One of the worst mining accidents in China in recent years happened in November 2009 when 104 workers were killed after several explosions at a coal mine in Heilongjiang province.

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