China planning better mine rescue facilities

08:15, October 21, 2010      

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A man gets a look at a mine rescue capsule on display at the fifth China International Occupational Safety & Health Exhibition in Beijing on Sept 1. (Photo/China Daily)

China plans to take a lesson from the mine rescue operation in Chile and will build more underground shelters and other emergency refuge facilities in coal mines, a top work safety official said.

Luo Lin, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, made the remark at a meeting in Henan province on Tuesday, after a gas leak killed 37 miners there.

The provision of emergency facilities below ground in mines across the country will have to work to a deadline, Luo was quoted by China News Service as saying.

Mines in China were to have underground escape capsules and other emergency facilities by 2015, according to a previous administration work schedule.

This recent fatal gas leak occurred on Saturday, while 276 miners were working below ground near the city of Yuzhou in Henan. Fortunately, 239 managed to escape.

The State Council has given its approval to an investigative team headed by Luo.

Escape capsules and shelter facilities were in the spotlight in China last week after the news was released of 33 Chilean miners being pulled to safety after being trapped underground for 69 days. An underground emergency shelter is believed to have played a key role.

Although China does not have similar technical standards, emergency facilities have been tested in five State-owned coalmine operations in coal-rich Shanxi province, Zhang Mingsheng, head of the provincial coal industry bureau's science and technology office, told China Daily.

"The facilities are still in the experimental stage," he said.

The Changcun coalmine, which belongs to Shanxi's Lu'an Group, has been equipped with 16 underground escape capsules and seven shelter rooms. It was China's first mine with such safety facilities, China Youth Daily reported over the weekend.

The capsule is a steel structure measuring 6.3 meters by 1.4 meters by 1.8 meters and can withstand the impact of a gas explosion. It has its own oxygen supply, air purifier and air conditioner and can keep 12 miners alive for 96 hours, according to the report.

The capsule can be moved by track to the shelter room. Each shelter can hold 100 miners and has a communication system, power and medical equipment. A permanent borehole connects it to the outside world, allowing air, fresh water and food to be lowered down.

By Lan Tian, China Daily


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