Rescue efforts stopped for 31 trapped miners in N China

10:35, March 15, 2010      

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Rescue efforts were stopped as 31 miners trapped underground a flooded coal mine in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were believed to have no chance of survival, a rescue official said Sunday.

No signs of life have been detected during the two weeks after underground water flooded a pit of Luotuoshan Coal Mine in Wuhai City, at least 600 kilometers from the regional capital Hohhot, on March 1, said Lan Yi, spokesman of the rescue headquarters.

Lan told a press briefing that they stopped the rescue operation after medical teams believed that the trapped coal mine workers had no chance of survival.

Rescuers have used infrared surveillance cameras and echo megaphones to detect life underground, but continuing flood had complicated rescue efforts.

A total of 77 miners were working underground at the time of the accident. One miner was dead and 45 were rescued.

The trapped miners are from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi and Henan, according to a full name list published late last week.

Luotuoshan Coal Mine, which is still under construction, is owned by Wuhai Energy Co. Ltd. under Shenhua Group Corp. Ltd., the country's largest coal producer.

Construction of the mine started in 2006. It is designed to produce 1.5 million tonnes of coal a year.

Last year, Inner Mongolia overtook the northern Shanxi Province to become China's largest coal production base with 637 million tonnes of output.

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