Rescue teams drill ‘life holes’ to get food, water to 17 trapped miners

World Today

A rescue worker inside a gypsum mine in Pingyi county, Shandong province, on Sunday. A miner died and another 17 were trapped when the mine collapsed on Friday. (Guo Xulei / Xinhua)

Rescue teams were trying various ways to get to the 17 trapped miners as quickly as possible at a gypsum mine that collapsed last Friday in east China’s Shandong Province.

Twenty-nine people were working underground when the mine collapsed at 7:56 p.m. local time Friday in Pingyi County. By Saturday evening 11 were rescued, one had died, and 17 remain trapped.

According to authorities, the 17 trapped are located in two sections: three in a quarry work area, and the other 14 in an area close to the life hole that rescuers were drilling.

To send food, water, and communication equipment to them, the rescuers have been drilling four life holes. The No 4. hole was bored Monday evening, and the No. 3 hole, which is the closest to the trapped miners, was currently being drilled.

Complicating rescue efforts is the mine itself – it has collapsed three times since the rescue operation began, in addition to the difficulties brought by the water burst from the tunnel.

“Once the water volume increases, we need evacuate all the rescue personnel lest they would be harmed by the rising water. Second, we are taking samples of the water so as to know whether it is the old stagnant water from the worked-out section or from the water-bearing layer,” said Gao Guangwei, deputy director of the National Administration of Work Safety.

Gao added that they have intensified observation in the worked-out section and spots where water bursts, and publish the results every three minutes.

“Once there is abnormal changes found by the water observation stations, we will evacuate the rescue personnel as soon as possible,” said Gao.

The owner of the mine drowned early on Sunday morning in an apparent suicide while assisting rescue teams attempting to reach the 17 miners still trapped underground, according to local authorities.

Zhang Shuping, mayor of Linyi, said that Ma Congbo, chairman of Yurong Commerce and Trade Co jumped into a mine shaft that had partly filled with water as he was assisting in the rescue at around 2:30 a.m.

He died in the water, Zhang said.

So far nearly 700 rescuers are working on the site and the cause of the accident will be investigated soon.

Compiled from Xinhua and CCTV News Content wires