Flooding at a mine in central China killed one miner but rescuers pulled 33 other trapped workers to safety on Tuesday after a 23-hour ordeal, a state news agency said. The miners were lifted out of a flooded shaft around dawn, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It was the third mine accident in as many weeks to hit the resource-rich central Henan province, with an overall toll of at least six people killed.
There were 42 people working underground when the mine shaft flooded shortly after dawn Monday at the Gaomendong Coal Mine in Jiaxian County, Pingdingshan City. Initial reports said nine had escaped safely, with 33 men still trapped. It turned out that only eight had escaped, and that one had died.
The miners were working at an unauthorized part of the mine, and the number of workers in the pit surpassed the safety capacity, Li Hanwei, vice chief of the province's rescue headquarters, told Xinhua late on Monday.
"The mine allows a maximum of 28 minors according to its safety operating procedure. But there were 42 people underground when the accident happened," he said.
The mine owner has been detained by police. Xinhua said the Gaomendong mine was a legal colliery that produces 60,000 tons of coal a year.
The accident was the third in Henan in less than three weeks, Xinhua said. In the other two accidents, five miners have been confirmed dead while at least 19 others remain missing. China's mines are the world's most dangerous with more than 3,700 deaths a year in explosions, fires and floods. Many accidents are blamed on small mines with low safety standards, or those operating illegally.