Rescuers search for survivors after blast in Chinese coal mine kills 111

Friday, June 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ Rescuers scrambled Friday to save four people trapped after a gas explosion at a Chinese coal mine killed 111 workers, a state safety official said.

``We know where the four missing people are and we're trying very hard to rescue them,'' said Zhao Tiechui, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision.

Twenty-four workers from the Chengzihe mine in Jixi, a city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, have been hospitalized for injuries, Zhao said on state television.

Thursday's explosion occurred at 9:45 a.m., when about 139 workers were in the mine, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Rescue teams made an ``all-out bid to save the lives of miners,'' the news agency said. So far, Xinhua said, 60 bodies have been recovered.

The Chengzihe mine has 5,500 workers and produces 1.1 million tons of coal annually, Xinhua said.

Work has been suspended at nine other coal mines under the jurisdiction of the Jixi municipality mining administration which manages the Chengzihe mine, Xinhua said.

Mine explosions are usually caused by the ignition of dangerous concentrations of coal gas by sparks or open flames. They occur frequently in Chinese mines, which often lack even basic safety equipment such as ventilators to disperse the gas.

Last year, more than 5,000 Chinese miners died from explosions, floods and other mine accidents.