BEIJING – Emergency services continue to try to clear access to a tunnel where 18 workers remain trapped in a coal mine in Shandong in eastern China, reported state network CCTV on Tuesday.
Local authorities have confirmed the death of three miners so far, but the state of the 18 trapped is still unknown after the mine collapsed Saturday night.
Rescue teams managed to evacuate 312 of the 334 workers in the mine and recovered two bodies at the site. On Sunday two miners were rescued alive, one of whom died in the hospital, taking the death toll to three.
The miner who survived said in hospital that half of his body had been buried under the rubble and after managing to get out was found by rescue teams, according to CCTV.
Meanwhile, the Shandong Coal Mine Safety Supervision Bureau on Monday reported of difficulties in the ongoing rescue.
Bureau head Wang Duanwu said that removing debris was proving to be difficult due to fears of miners being buried underneath, which has forced the operation to slow down and proceed with caution.
The causes behind the accident are being investigated, although rock fractures are usually produced because of explosions carried out in the mines.
Chinese mines, especially coal mines, have a high accident rate and are among the most dangerous in the world, although in recent years the number of fatal accidents has declined significantly.
In 2017, Chinese coal mines recorded 219 accidents with 375 deaths, although this was 28.7 percent less with respect to 2016, and almost 20 times lower than at the beginning of the last decade, when there were 7,000 deaths annually.