Flood at Chinese coal mine kills four, leaves 14 trapped

Mandy Zuo

Four people were killed and 14 remain trapped after a coal mine in southwest China flooded on Saturday afternoon, state media reported on Sunday.

The incident happened at about 3.30pm local time at a mine in the city of Yibin, Sichuan province, when 347 people were working underground, broadcaster China Central Television said.

As of Sunday morning, 329 people had managed to return to the surface, and 11 teams comprising about 200 people were working to free those still trapped, the report said.

It did not say how the four people had died, but said the flooding had damaged the communication system in some parts of the mine.

Rescue teams are battling to keep water levels from rising in the mine. Photo: Weibo

Li Wenzhong, the deputy head of the city’s emergency management bureau, said the water level was still rising but at a slower pace thanks to the efforts of the rescuers.

The mine, in Yibin’s Gongxian county, is owned by Shanmushu – a unit of Sichuan Furong Group – and has a poor safety record, according to earlier state media reports.

The company has been punished several times for safety violations and in 2013, two of its senior managers were given five-year prison sentences after seven people died in a gas explosion.

Despite promises to make safety improvements, four managers at the mine were sacked earlier this year after an inspection in April found levels of hazardous gas high enough to spark another blast.

The flood happened when 347 people were working underground, CCTV reported. Photo: Weibo

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