4 miners rescued from flooded mine

2012-07-08 09:09

Beijing - Rescuers pulled four miners out of a flooded coal mine in the central province of Hunan on Sunday, more than three days after an accident trapped them underground, state media said.

Water rushed into the mine in Leiyang city on Wednesday evening, trapping 16 miners underground as 24 others managed to escape, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Workers rescued three miners early on Sunday and another later in the morning, state television reported, as it showed one being transported out of the mine on a stretcher and into a waiting ambulance.

The rescue of the four leaves another 12 still underground, though not all of them are confirmed to be alive, Xinhua reported.

Medical personnel have gone into the pit carrying stretchers and first-aid material, it said.

The accident was not reported to the government until the following day, delaying rescue efforts by 12 hours, Xinhua said, adding that the mine's owner, Liu Yaping, is now in police custody.

The local government could not be reached for comment.

Accidents in China's mines occur frequently.

However, tighter safety standards appear to have been effective according to the latest official figures, which say 1 973 people died in coal mining accidents in 2011, down 19% on the previous year.

Labour rights groups 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 is the world's biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70% of its growing energy needs.