Poisonous gas prevents rescue of 17 Chinese miners

SHANGHAI — Poisonous fumes were preventing efforts to rescue 17 Chinese miners trapped underground for three days, according an official and state media.

On Thursday, a gas blast at the coal mine in the northeastern province of Liaoning killed five miners outright, injured another and trapped 17 others.

“At the scene, there is still no way for rescue,” a Liaoning provincial mine safety official, who declined to be named, told AFP.

“The carbon monoxide level is very high,” he said. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous but undetectable gas produced by burning.

The official declined to say when the search might be called off, but he said workers had pumped water underground in an effort to put out a fire in the mine to help rescue efforts.

Rescue workers and medical personnel remained at the scene on Sunday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The trapped miners are believed to have sheltered on a platform located nearly 170 metres (550 feet) underground, it said.

Authorities had detained the owner and three managers of the Dahuang Number Two Coal Mine where the accident occurred, Xinhua said. State media said previously that the mine was operating illegally.

China’s mines are known for being among the world’s most deadly due to lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency, and accidents are common as safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.

Just last month, 15 miners were killed and another three injured when a tramcar derailed in a coal mine in central China.

China’s rapid economic growth has caused demand for energy, including coal, to surge. The world’s second-biggest economy is the top global consumer of coal.

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