Sounds Heard from Flooded China Mine

Posted August 29th, 2011 at 1:32 am (UTC-5)
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Rescuers say they heard knocking sounds Monday from a flooded mine in northeastern China, where 22 workers have been trapped since last Tuesday.

China's official Xinhua news agency reports that the noises came from a 280-meter pipe that was drilled late Sunday to allow fresh air into the mine in Qitaihe, a city in Heilongjiang province.

Twenty-six miners were trapped on August 23 when they broke through into a flooded pit. Xinhua said three miners were rescued Saturday and one body has been recovered. Forty-five miners were underground at the time of the accident, and 19 escaped.

The illegal mine had been ordered shut in 2007, but the owners reopened it without permission on August 16.

Xinhua said the head of Boli country in Heilongjiang province and his deputy were both dismissed Wednesday during an emergency meeting of the local Communist Party.

China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,400 people killed just last year. Many of the fatalities occurred in small, unregulated operations.