Chinese state media has reported that a gas explosion in Hunan has killed seven people. Mining accidents in China occur frequently, and reports claim that the official death toll over the past ten years has reached over 47,000. From Asiaone:
The explosion killed the miners on Sunday morning at the mine in Lianyuan city, though 39 others escaped, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting the local government.
Water rushed into the mine on Wednesday evening, trapping 16 miners underground as 24 others managed to escape.
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, was now in police custody.
There are also reports of 11 workers confirmed to be alive under the flooded mine. China Daily reports:
Rescuers confirmed early Sunday that 11 of the 16 trapped miners were alive three days after they became trapped under a flooded colliery pit in central China's Hunan province.
Medical personnel had gone into the pit carrying stretchers and first-aid material, said the rescuers, adding that the 11 miners would be saved out of the pit in three groups and rushed to hospital for further treatment.
Six professional teams of 90 members and more than 1,000 people were at the scene to carry out rescue operations.
According to the Xinhua, three miners have been rescued after being underground for three days:
The first group of three miners were lifted to ground early Sunday after being trapped for over three days under a flooded colliery pit in central China's Hunan province, rescuers said.
The three mine workers were pulled out of a pit of Qielichong colliery in Leiyang city, at about 1:40 a.m. and were immediately sent to a local hospital, the rescue headquarters said in a statement.
While this is the most recent accident involving coal mines, the Wall Street Journal has reported that safety improvements have cut one-third of fatalities:
Mine floods usually occur when miners drill through to an abandoned shaft that has been allowed to fill with water. Along with gas explosions and cave-ins, they make China's coal mines the world's deadliest, although the death rate has fallen.
Safety improvements have cut annual fatalities by about one-third from a high of 6,995 in 2002. That improvement has come despite a tripling in the output of coal that generates most of China's electrical power.
Technological advances, better training and the closing of the most dangerous, small-scale mining operations have also made rescues more successful, even after several days.
In April 2010, 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground. The miners survived by eating sawdust, tree bark, paper and even coal. Some strapped themselves to the walls of the shafts with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.
See also Documentary: To the Light, via CDT.