No Hope for 181 Chinese Miners: Official

The 181 workers who have been trapped in two flooded coal mines in eastern China for almost a week have no hope of surviving, a high-ranking official said Thursday.

Relatives weep outside the compound of Zhangzhuang mine in Xintai city, eastern China's Shandong province, August 19, 2007. (AFP Photo)

"They have no hope of survival," the vice governor of Shandong province, Huang Sheng, told reporters here, although he emphasised that water was still being pumped out of the mines.

"We're doubling efforts to pump the water out every day but experts think it will still take several days," he said.

Torrential rains on Friday led to a river in Shandong bursting its banks, sending water cascading into the mines that sit 10 kilometres (six miles) apart in the city of Xintai.

Over 750 miners were underground when the water swept into the Zhangzhuang mine. Although many managed to escape, 172 were trapped and have not been heard from since.

In the other accident, nine people were trapped at the Minggong coal mine.

At the Zhangzhuang mine, officials said that water almost completely filled the 860-metre (2,840-foot) pit on Friday.

About 24 hours after the flooding, water was still as high as 20 metres below the surface, leaving the trapped miners with only the slimmest hopes of having found an air pocket.

Nevertheless, frantic rescue efforts had been maintained and officials had until Thursday refused to rule out the possibility, however slim, of a miracle survival story.

When asked for a status report on Friday, State Administration of Work Safety spokeswoman An Yuanjie referred AFP to Huang's comments.

Source: AFP

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