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Workplace Accidents Taking Toll

At least 39 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in Jiaohe, a city in northeast China's Jilin Province, made it to safety on Monday, according to local rescue workers.

A total of 69 workers were in the tunnel of the Tengda Coal Mine when the flooding occurred at around 7:00 AM Sunday.

Fortunately, the ventilation remained normal underground, said Yuan Yuqing, deputy director of the Jilin Provincial Coal Administration.

Sources with the local rescue center confirmed that the water came from the Ji'an Coal Mine, located several hundred meters from the Tengda mine. The latter is a licensed township coal production business.

Although the investigation into the cause of the accident is still under way, local sources said that the flood could have been triggered by rainfall set off by cloud seeding and snowmelt from the Songhua River.

The accident was just one of seven occurring in workplaces across the nation in the past few days.

Eight lives were lost on Saturday when a fire spread through the Fushun Coal Mine in Yuzhou, central China's Henan Province, while four people remain missing. Another 67 miners managed to escape when a machine caught fire, according to a local official.

The mine, a township enterprise, was operating illegally and police are questioning its owner.

Provincial Vice Governor Shi Jichun went to the site to oversee rescue operations.

Twelve people have now been confirmed dead in Thursday's explosion of a chemical plant in Qijiang County, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Ten people were injured and seven remain missing, according to county official Pan Dexiang.

The blast occurred on Thursday evening when lightning struck an emulsification workshop at the Dongxi Chemical Plant. It destroyed a three-story factory building and left a two-meter-deep crater.

Explosive materials are mixed with the debris, creating the possibility of another blast as rescue teams search for those still missing. Experts are on the scene working with the cleanup teams to minimize the risk.

Ten tons of hazardous chemicals have been removed from the factory's warehouse, but one source said that another batch of explosives is still buried under the rubble.

Dongxi Plant has earmarked 2.5 million yuan (US$300,000) to cover medical costs of the injured workers and to compensate the victims' families. A local insurance company has paid 500,000 yuan (US$60,000) in advance payments.

Minimum compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) is to be paid to each of the victims.

Three boat accidents took place off China's east coast on Saturday, leaving one dead and 14 missing, local marine search and rescue centers announced on Sunday.

A fishing boat sank in strong winds near Taizhou, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province, at 4:56 AM. Three of the six sailors were rescued but three others are still missing.

An hour later, a fishing boat collided with a large ship 155 nautical miles east of Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang. Only one of the nine people aboard the fishing boat was rescued, another died and the remaining seven are still missing. No one on the larger vessel was injured.

The third accident took place near Wenling, Zhejiang Province, at about 3:00 PM, when a boat registered in Fujian Province sank. Two were rescued and the other four are missing.

Rescue efforts are still under way at the three accident sites and the causes are under investigation.

Two more bodies have been found buried in the landslide that occurred on Thursday at a quarry near Hohhot, the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said local rescuers Sunday. Three other workers were previously confirmed dead.

All five were from Ulanqab, a city near the quarry. A source said earlier that production had been stopped at the quarry for some time, but that the workers were staying to guard equipment left at the site.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2005)

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