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Reward offer speeds up race to find Chinese miners

Associated Press Featured Article

July 08, 2011

Reward offer speeds up race to find Chinese miners

By Associated Press ,

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese mine owner offered money to rescuers who find missing miners dead or alive, as searchers dug through coal and pumped out water Friday in efforts to reach 69 miners trapped underground — some for almost a week — in three separate incidents.

One of 19 miners missing in southern Guangxi autonomous region was confirmed dead, bringing the fatalities from that incident to four. Another 49 miners escaped when the coal mine collapsed Saturday after days of heavy rain.

The mine owner, Guangxi Heshan Coal Mining Co., posted a notice offering 2 million yuan ($300,000) to rescuers for each miner they pull out alive. On Friday, the local Laibin Daily reported the company had added a reward of 50,000 yuan for every body pulled out —with an extra 50,000 yuan for the first one.

The vice mayor of Laibin said workers became high–spirited after the rewards were announced and rescue efforts sped up, the newspaper reported. Calls to the company rang unanswered.

In neighboring Guizhou province, 23 people were still trapped after water flooded the mine where they were working on Saturday.

Rescuers haven't had any contact with the miners and not a single body has been found, said the head of the press office of the Pingtang county Communist Party, who gave only his surname, Zhang, as is common with Chinese officials.

Zhang said 5.3 million cubic feet (150,000 cubic meters) of water had been pumped from the mine since Saturday.

In eastern Shandong province, 28 miners were still trapped after an air compressor caught fire Wednesday.

At a briefing Friday, officials from the province's Xuecheng district said part of the coal mine was still too hot for rescuers to enter, according to the Zaozhuang Daily. It quoted the officials as saying the mine was 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 Celsius) in some places and they were trying to reduce the temperature by spraying water and increasing ventilation.

China's mining industry is the deadliest in the world, although the government has improved safety standards in recent years. A total of 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China last year — an average of more than six a day.

On Thursday, four mine workers were killed and another was seriously injured in a gas explosion in a coal mine in western Xinjiang autonomous region, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

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