07/22/2008, 00.00
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Race against the clock to save 30 miners trapped in Nadu

Yesterday floods blocked the exits from a mine in the autonomous region Guangxi. Seven workers escaped, 12 were rescued. In 2007 3800 people died in Chinese mines.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 30 miners are still trapped underground in Nadu, Tiandong county, in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, after flash flooding blocked all exits to the surface.  Rescue workers are searching for survivors, but have so far have ascertained that only 12 miners are still alive; for the remaining 24 hopes of finding them alive are dwindling with every hour. According to reports by government agencies six people are officially dead.

56 miners were working underground, at the moment of the flood. Seven escaped on their own and 13 were rescued, some in the early hours of this morning. Rescuers were trying to send water and porridge to 12 miners still trapped, but had yet to make contact with the other 24. According to one rescue worker the group is “trapped in a place about 2,000 metres from the entrance. Lack of oxygen in the narrow mining tunnel would make it difficult for the exhausted miners to get out by themselves”.

In 2007, an estimated 3.786 workers died because of underground flooding, explosions and gas leaks.  Despite a reduction of 20% in the number of deaths – thanks to improved safety norms imposed by the central government – Chinese mines remain the most dangerous in the world.  The grave financial crises and lack of access to raw materials has resulted in increased output to the detriment of the workers, once again the weak link in the commercial chain.  Official sources underline that because of the pace of industrialisation, it will take ten years for a significant reduction in the number of deaths in the workplace

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