A Week of Mining Disasters, 181 Trapped

August 21, 2007 Updated: August 21, 2007

A riverbank collapsed because of heavy rainfall in China's east Shangdong Province, sending flood waters into a local coalmine. 181 miners remain trapped beneath the surface after a week. It is estimated that over 150 miners could possibly lose their lives.

Between August 16 and 17, the Xingtai area received heavy rainfall reaching 205 millimeters (8 inches), According to major mainland news websites, the accident took place around 2:30 p.m. at the Zhang Zhuang Coal Mine in Xingtai. The mine is owned by the Huayuan Mining Co. and about 172 people are missing in the accident.

Between the evening of August 17 and the following morning, another 100 millimeters of rainfall hit the area, which caused the underground water to further rise. All four underground working platforms and water pumps in the mine were submerged by the water.

According to the rescue center, the 172 headcount was calculated from timecard records that day, most of them are local rural workers. Among the 172 miners, 14 may still have a chance to survive because they could stay in a higher level in the mine about 30 meters under the surface. But the chance for the others is very slim. Currently, all communications with the miners has been lost.

At 8:45 p.m. on August 18, a similar accident also occurred in another local coalmine. Ninety-five miners were working underground when the incident happened, among them, 86 were rescued and 9 remain trapped.

Coalmines in China are the most dangerous workplace in the world. According to the regime's official report, China had 2,845 coalmine incidents in 2006, which caused 4,746 casualties, on average, 13 miners died daily.