Apr 12, 2021 07:34 PM

Authorities Battle to Rescue 21 Miners Trapped in Flooded Xinjiang Coal Shaft

What’s new: Chinese authorities were working Sunday to rescue 21 miners trapped in a coal shaft due to flooding in the far western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The incident occurred at around 6:10 p.m. Saturday at the Fengyuan Coal Mine in the Changji Hui autonomous prefecture in northern Xinjiang, Xinhua said. Eight people were safely evacuated. No deaths were immediately reported.

Rescuers have basically identified the locations of the trapped miners, 12 of whom are stuck some 1,200 meters below ground, state broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday morning, adding that the region’s complex topography is hampering rescue efforts.

The mine opened in 2002 and is fully owned by Meng Xiulan, according to publicly available data (link in Chinese). Multiple Chinese news outlets reported that it produces around 600,000 tons of coal per year.

The background: The flooded shaft is the latest in a string of safety incidents, some of them deadly, to hit China’s mining sector since the second half of last year.

On Friday, an explosion at a mine in Southwest China’s Guizhou province killed two people and trapped six more.

Last month, authorities launched an anticorruption investigation into three emergency response officials in eastern China’s Shandong province after two incidents — an explosion and a fire — in the space of two months killed at least 16 people and trapped more than 20 underground.

Mining is one of the world’s deadliest industries. Although the number of people killed in mining incidents in China has fallen dramatically over the past two decades, deadly coal-extraction incidents still claimed 316 lives in 2019, according to official figures. Data for the industry as a whole is not publicly available.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh ( and editor Marcus Ryder (

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