21 confirmed dead in north China coal mine flood
Search teams have recovered the bodies of 21 Chinese coal miners who died when the shaft where they were working filled with water, an official said Thursday.
After days of frantic rescue efforts following the accident Sunday, the final death toll of 21 was confirmed by a Datong city government official who gave only his surname, Meng. More than 600 rescuers had been working to pump water from the shaft and drill holes from the surface at the Jiangjiawan mine near the northern city of Datong.
A total of 247 miners from Datong Coal Mine Group – which produces 900,000 tons of coal annually – were underground when water rushed into the shaft Sunday evening.
Of those, 223 people made it safely to the surface while three of those trapped were rescued and were recovering in hospital.
State news agency Xinhua reported that initial investigations showed the flooding occurred due to “water accumulated in a mined-out area of the colliery.”
China has seen a dramatic drop in accidental deaths in its notoriously dangerous mines, partly as a result of improved safety measures but also because of falling coal production levels as the slowing economy reduces demand.
The government plans to shut about 2,000 small coal mines by 2015 to improve safety standards.