51 dead, 4 missing in north China mine blast
The rescue operation was still on, but the high concentration of carbon monoxide had made it difficult.india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 13:23 IST
Rescuers have recovered bodies of 51 out of the 55 miners who went missing after Saturday's blast in a colliery in north China's Shanxi province.
The rescue headquarters said 55 miners, instead of 57 as was previously reported, were trapped when the coal dust explosion went off in the coal pit of Linjiazhuang Colliery.
By Tuesday morning, rescuers are able to cross out two lucky miners from the casualty list.
Qi Baoyin had left the coal pit to make a phone call shortly before the accident occurred, rescuers said.
"When I hung up and re-entered the pit, I saw dense smoke and sensed trouble. So I ran away as fast as I could," he was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency. He was not immediately seen in the chaos following the tragedy.
Li Xinling, the other miner, had been hospitalised in the neighbouring city of Jiexiu because of an industrial injury since July 7.
The rescue operation was still on, but the high concentration of carbon monoxide had made it difficult, according to Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety.
Sixty-two miners were working in the pit when the blast occurred. Six managed to escape and another one suffering carbon monoxide poisoning was rescued alive.
China is the world's largest coal producer as well as consumer. However, Chinese coal mines are notorious for their high rates of accidents, often blamed on lax safety standards in private and illegal mines.
Every year, thousands of miners die in coal mine blasts or flooding accidents.