Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Rescuers blast debris in search for missing Chongqing miners

AP , BEIJING

Rescuers blasted through mud and debris yesterday to try to reach 27 miners trapped after a massive landslide buried an iron ore plant and several homes near Chongqing, killing 26 people and leaving dozens missing.

The landslide buried the Jiwei Mountain iron ore mine and covered its two entrances with rocks on Friday, while 27 miners were stuck hundreds of feet below ground, Xinhua news agency said.

Authorities believe they could still be alive.

No official death toll has been released, but state broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday that 26 people were killed — 19 miners and seven staff from a cellphone company.

When asked to confirm the report, a Chongqing government spokesman said no bodies had been found so far.

Hundreds of rescuers scoured the debris with sniffer dogs on Saturday but found no signs of life, Xinhua quoted a spokesman with the rescue headquarters as saying.

The landslide occurred in Wulong County, about 150km from Chongqing, where industrial accidents are common.

Xinhua said the miners were about 150m to 200m below ground and that authorities estimated that the air and water supply in the mine could support them for five to seven days.

Rescuers tried to reach the shaft where the miners were believed to be trapped by setting off explosives on Saturday near one of the mine’s entrances, Xinhua said. More explosives were detonated yesterday, CCTV said. Plans were under way to drill a 40m deep hole to give the miners air and send down water and food.

An Wulong County Chinese Communist Party official who only gave her surname as Zhu said that 72 people were still missing.

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