Rescuers hear taps in China mine where 153 trapped

17 April 2010 | 03:58 Code : 19917 Geoscience events
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The governor of the Chinese province where 153 miners have been trapped in a...

The governor of the Chinese province where 153 miners have been trapped in a flooded coal mine for almost a week has ordered rescuers to enter the mine by noon Saturday, an official said, while no further signs of life came from underground since tapping was heard the previous day.Rescue workers drop glucose packs down a pipe in the hope they will reach miners trapped underground, after water flooded portions of the Wangjialing Coal Mine, in Xiangning, Shanxi province, China, Friday, April 2. Rescuers heard tapping sounds Friday from the pipes in a flooded Chinese coal mine where 153 workers were trapped more than five days earlier, and another rescue team reportedly heard shouts, an official said. The governor of the Chinese province where 153 miners have been trapped in a flooded coal mine for almost a week has ordered rescuers to enter the mine by noon Saturday, an official said, while no further signs of life came from underground since tapping was heard the previous day.Rescuers had cheered Friday after hearing the tapping noises, and possibly shouting. Footage on state-run China Central Television showed them tapping on pipes with a wrench, then cheering and jumping after hearing a response. They lowered pens and paper, along with glucose and milk, down metal pipes to the spot where the tapping was heard.But nothing new had been heard as of Saturday morning, said Wen Changjin, an official with the news center set up at the site."At the request of the governor, as of noon rescuers should go down the shaft, but we’re not sure if they will be able to do so by then," he said.It was not immediately clear what risks rescuers would be taking by entering the Wangjialing mine, where 3,000 rescuers were working nonstop to pump water. Wen said the water level underground had dropped by 5.3 meters as of 6 a.m. Saturday.Government officials say the mine flooded last Sunday afternoon when workers digging tunnels broke into an old shaft filled with water. But experts said it could still take days to reach the miners - and their survival depended on whether they had decent air to breathe and clean water to drink."They’re doing probably the only thing they can do, which is to pump water as fast as they possibly can," said David Feickert, a coal mine safety adviser to the Chinese government. He said some mines have rescuers trained as divers for cases like this. "But from the sound of it, there’s too much water in this mine and they’re not sure where people are."The flood was one of three coal mine accidents in China within a week. A gas explosion Wednesday in the central province of Henan killed 19 and left 24 trapped, and nine people died Thursday in northwestern Shaanxi province.Wen said rescuers tapping on the pipes began to hear responses from about 820 feet (250 meters) below ground at about 2 p.m.Rescuer Zhao Chuan told The Associated Press that another rescue team had reported hearing people shouting underground. Wen said officials at the news center had not heard reports of shouting.Zhao was quoted by state-run China Central Television as saying that an iron wire was found tied to a drill rod and rescuers think it may have been attached by one of the trapped miners. Images of the iron wire showed it had been shaped into a circle, with its ends twisted together.


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