181 miners still trapped in flooded coal mines in east China | world | Hindustan Times
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181 miners still trapped in flooded coal mines in east China

world Updated: Aug 19, 2007 08:59 IST

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The fate of 181 miners trapped in two flooded coal mines in east China's Shandong Province since Friday remains unknown even as rescuers say their chances of survival was slim.

A total of 172 were still trapped in a flooded coal mine despite a levee breach that was blamed for the flooding was closed up early on Sunday, rescuers said.

More than 2,000 Chinese troops, armed police and miners managed to close up the levee breach on the swollen Wenhe River early on Sunday.

A total of 756 miners were working underground at the time of the flooding and 584 managed to escape.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts into the rescue work and take all necessary measures to rescue the trapped miners, Xinhua news agency reported.

Torrential rain swept Xintai on Friday and early on Saturday with a precipitation of 232 millimetres, triggering flash flood and a 50-metre breach in a levee on the Wenhe River.

Floodwater from the river poured into the coal mine at 2:30 pm on Friday (local time) via an old shaft and caused the accident, mine officials said.

Authorities have summoned high-power pumps from the provinces of Henan, Hebei and Shanxi to speed up pumping operation.

Officials have ordered all coal mines near the banks of the Wenhe River to stop production and residents in the low-lying areas downstream were also told to get prepared to evacuate.