Sounds heard from Chinese mine where 22 missing

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2011 11:00 PM

Rescuers heard knocking sounds Monday from a flooded Chinese mine where 22 workers have been trapped for nearly a week.

The noises came from a 920-foot (280-meter) pipe that was drilled late Sunday to allow fresh air into the illegal mine in the Heilongjiang province city of Qitaihe in the northeast of China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Twenty-six miners were trapped Aug. 23 when workers broke through into an adjacent flooded pit.

Xinhua said three miners were rescued Saturday and one body has been recovered.

The mine had been ordered shut in 2007 but was reopened without permission on Aug. 16, Xinhua said, citing the provincial bureau of occupational safety.

China's mines are notoriously deadly, although safety improvements have cut annual fatalities by about one-third from a high of 6,995 in 2002 despite a tripling in the output of coal used to generate the vast majority of China's electrical power.

In April 2010, 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground.