In what has become the deadliest in a series of Chinese mining disasters, 166 workers were trapped in underground shafts in central China due to a gas explosion. According to the Washington Post, rescue workers were able to recover 25 bodies but 141 other miners remain in tunnels and shafts filled with carbon monoxide and cut off by rubble. Authorities said the blocked-in miners have little chance of being rescued.
When the explosion occurred, 293 miners were working, of those, 127 immediately found safety though suffering from carbon monoxide inhalation, but those working farthest from the entrance were unable to get out local officials reported.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urged authorities to do all they could to rescue anyone left alive, government television said. “We must not only find out all the details of the disaster and seriously get to the root of who is responsible. In addition we must make efforts to take safety and prevention measures.”
Rescue workers embarking through the remains into distant shafts were forced to turn back because of carbon monoxide, Zha Tiechui, deputy head of the government’s Production Safety Bureau, told reporters at the scene. All communications inside the mine were severed by the blast.
According to the Post, in a similar blast last month at the Daping mine in Henan province, 148 miners were trapped behind rubble and smoke. After several days of rescue efforts, authorities declared them dead. Another Henan mine was hit by an explosion this month; 33 workers were killed.