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Sunday, 16 January, 2000, 18:27 GMT
Rescuers reach Chinese miners




Chinese emergency workers have succeeded in rescuing 18 of the remaining 29 miners trapped underground for six days at the Dahuangshan mine in Jiangsu province.

Three of the 29 were found dead, and the remaining eight are still missing, according to the Xinhua news agency, bringing the total death toll to 14.

A mine official told Reuters news agency that the rescue operation had been "absolutely correct", and said the condition of the survivors was "very good", thanks to the food they had been given during the ordeal.



Their condition is very good - the nutritional food kept them alive
Mine official

Rescue workers had managed to push oxygen and a nutritional liquid to the miners whilst labouring for almost a week to free them.

There was a setback on Saturday when the ceiling of the rescue tunnel collapsed only 10 metres from the cavern where the miners were trapped.

The miners had managed to keep in touch with rescuers by knocking on steel tubes but the knocking got progressively weaker.

Hopes were fading amongst the rescuers but on Sunday they succeeded in reaching 21 of the missing men.

Collapse

The accident occurred on Tuesday when a section of the mine, near the city of Xuzhou, collapsed in a flood, trapping 63 workers.

On Wednesday, 23 were rescued.

Officials said on Saturday that it was clear that some miners were still alive 320m underground.


China's mines
Official figures say 7,400 miners died in 1998
Most deaths caused by gas explosions
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of coal

"Some of them must still be alive since we can hear noises," said one mine official.

Rescue workers cut a narrow tunnel through debris and fed oxygen, milk, glucose and water through to the trapped miners.

Workers will continue the search for the eight still missing, according to the mine official.

The official Chinese media has reported that this is the fourth fatal mining accident in four weeks. In the last two weeks 40 miners have been killed.

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