Accountability Procedure Launched
On April 5, an accountability procedure was launched. According to spokesman Liu Dezheng, the rescue headquarters have required that the mine's owner prepare for an imminent inquiry into the flooding accident that left the miners trapped.
Luo Lin, Director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said earlier that ignoring warnings that water was seeping into the coal shaft and slow evacuation procedures had led to the accident.
Jiang Shijie, a manager of the Wangjialing Coal Mine project, said workers building the mine had warned supervisors about water seepage on two occasions late on the morning of March 28, approximately two hours before the flooding occurred.
Jiang received an emergency phone call at about 1:40 p.m. informing him that water was pouring into the shaft. He attempted to contact miners underground to raise the alarm, but was unable to reach them.
An evacuation should have been ordered immediately after managers received reports of water leakage, said Luo. Managers should have evacuated workers from the mine, cut power and suspended work immediately.
According to a statement by the State Administration of Work Safety, a preliminary investigation found that the project's management had failed to detect underground water and distribute information, resulting in workers breaking through to an adjacent abandoned shaft that was full of water.
Timeline of Key Events
March 28 Underground water floods the pit of Wangjialing Coal Mine at approximately 1:40 p.m., and 108 workers escape while 153 others remain trapped in the shaft.
March 29 Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang arrives at the scene of the accident to oversee the search and rescue operation. Water stops rising in the flooded mine.
March 30 The water level drops by 15 cm, and a total of 15,000 cubic meters of water is pumped out of the pit by 6 p.m.
March 31 Rescuers state that some of the 153 workers may still be alive.
April 1 The water level underground drops by 95 cm and a total of 44,200 cubic meters of water is pumped from the shaft by 6 p.m. Rescuers drill a vertical hole into the mine, ensuring that oxygen can reach the flooded pit.
April 2 Rescuers hear the sound of knocking on metal pipes, and an iron wire is found attached at the end of a drill pipe when it is lifted to the surface at 3 p.m., indicating signs of life.
April 3 Thirteen rescuers enter the flooded mine to search for the trapped workers, but the situation underground remains "very complicated."
April 4 The total amount of water pumped out of the mine reaches 140,000 cubic meters by the afternoon, paving the way for the rescue operation.
At approximately 10 p.m., swaying lamp lights are seen on the other side of the V-shaped mine shaft. Rescuers enter the coal mine at approximately 11 p.m.
April 5 The first group of nine survivors are removed from the mine safely in the early morning. By the afternoon, a total of 115 miners have been lifted to safety. Five bodies are discovered by rescuers in the evening.
April 6 Another body is found at approximately 5 p.m.
April 7 The death toll reaches seven by the morning.
At approximately 7 p.m., two more bodies are found by rescuers.
April 8 The death toll rises to 20 as of 8:20 p.m. while 18 miners are still unfound
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)