Rescuers pulled seven injured miners to the surface yesterday and were trying to reach 50 others trapped after a rock explosion in a coal mine in central China, state media reported.
Four miners were killed in the rock blast on Thursday evening and 14 managed to escape, Xinhua news agency said. The rock explosion happened just after a small earthquake shook near the mine in the city of Sanmenxia in Henan Province.
State broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers with helmets and oxygen tanks carrying out the seven found alive early yesterday afternoon from a mine elevator as waiting officials applauded each rescue and medical staff rushed to attend to them.
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. They were rushed to waiting ambulances, CCTV showed.
Xinhua said six had minor injuries, but one was seriously hurt.
At least 200 workers were digging a small rescue tunnel about 500m deep to try to reach the trapped miners, the People’s Daily newspaper’s Web site said. The structural status of the mine and the conditions of the miners were not known.
The Qianqiu Coal Mine belongs to Yima Coal Group, a large state-owned coal company in Henan, the State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site.
Chinese State Administration of Work Safety Minister Luo Lin (駱琳) said a magnitude 2.9 earthquake occurred near the mine shortly before the “rock burst” was reported. The phenomenon occurs when settling earth bears down on mine walls and causes a sudden, catastrophic release of stored energy. The exploding chunks of coal and rock, or the shock waves alone, can be lethal.
The survival of the trapped miners depends on the intensity of the rock explosion and the rescuers’ ability to provide ventilation to them, a local official said.
“If it was not very strong, it might have caused the tunnel to get narrower, but we might still be able to send some air in there to ensure ventilation,” said the Yima city Communist Party’s head of propaganda, who would give only his surname, Tian, as is common with Chinese officials.