Crews rescue nearly two dozen men trapped in east China coal mine

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Dec. 17 (UPI) — Officials said on Friday that most of the coal miners trapped inside a mine shaft in eastern China have been rescued after more than a day underground.

Twenty-one coal miners became trapped on Wednesday night in the coal mine, located southwest of Beijing in China’s eastern Shanxi province.

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The first miner to be rescued made it to the surface on Friday afternoon. Later, officials said all but one had been safely pulled to the surface.

Hundreds of people worked to save the miners over the past 24 hours. Crews drained water out of the mining pit at a rate of 53,000 gallons per hour.

Officials said conditions at the mine were hazardous, as it had just one entrance that was 5 feet wide, which made it difficult to use large rescue equipment.

High demands for coal have pushed up prices and illegal mining in China, where accidents are frequent. China’s mine safety body reported last week that there have been more than 300 mining accidents so far in 2021.

Authorities said they have detained seven suspects involved in the illegal digging operation and the mine owner has reportedly fled.

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