China pulls 19 from flooded mine in rare rescue

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Rescue workers on Tuesday saved 19 miners from a flooded Chinese mine where they had been trapped for a week, state media said, in a rare good-news story for an industry in which thousands die each year. The state CCTV television network showed the men being carried out on stretchers from the flooded mine swaddled in blankets, their eyes bandaged as they emerged into the daylight, several shouting their thanks to the rescuers.
Three people remained trapped in the mine in northeastern China, which was flooded on August 23 when workers mistakenly drilled into a neighbouring mine that had been filled with water, the state Xinhua news agency said. China’s coal mines, which have a dismal safety record, have been hit by a series of accidents in recent years as demand for energy has spiked. News of Tuesday’s rescue came as it emerged that six miners died when a mine in southwest China’s Sichuan province flooded Monday, also trapping another six. Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics — a rate of more than six workers per day.
Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.
China’s govt has repeatedly pledged to make the mining industry safer, but large-scale rescue successes remain relatively rare. When 115 workers were pulled alive from a flooded state-run mine in April 2010, the rescue received widespread media coverage and was even turned into a film. Thirty-eight people died when the huge, state-run Wangjialing coal mine flooded as it was being built in Shanxi province in an accident blamed on lax safety standards.