Coal mine cable car plunges, killing 20

Updated: 2012-09-26 07:24

By Wang Xiaodong in Beijing and Xue Chaohua in Lanzhou (China Daily)

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'I could only put myself at the mercy of God,' says survivor in hospital

Twenty coal miners died after a cable car plunged into a pit early Tuesday in Northwest China's Gansu province, authorities said.

Coal mine cable car plunges, killing 20

Emergency workers carry bodies of workers out of a coal mine. A total of 20 workers were killed with another 14 rescued after a steel cable pulling two carriages broke at a coal mine in Baiyin, Gansu province, on Tuesday. Tian Xi / for China Daily

The accident occurred just after midnight at a private mine run by Qusheng Coal Mining in Baiyin.

The two-carriage cable car carrying 34 workers slipped backward and overturned after a steel wire pulling it up a 28-degree, 704-meter-long slope broke near the entrance of the pit, according to the city's Pingchuan district government.

Qi Yonggang, deputy mayor of Baiyin, told Xinhua News Agency that the two carriages could each hold 12 people, implying that the cable car was overloaded.

The city government said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

The 14 survivors are receiving treatment in hospital, authorities said, adding that all coal mines in Baiyin have been ordered to suspend operations to eliminate potential hazards.

"I heard the snapping of the steel wire, and the carriage I was sitting in started to slip backward. It accelerated and quickly went out of control," Xie Liqi, a survivor, told China Central Television.

Xie, who was receiving treatment for minor injuries, was lying on a bed with one eye covered with gauze. He also suffered injuries to his legs and waist.

"I heard a roaring sound of the wheels and dared not look around. I was aware the steel wire had broken," he said. "I could only put myself at the mercy of God."

Xie said he was sitting in the first carriage and was stuck in the middle of about a dozen workers and could not move.

The carriages were less than 4 square meters and were traveling 20 cm from the side of the pit.

"It wasn't possible to jump out of the carriages," Xie said. "When they finally stopped, they were in ruins, and all their handrails were destroyed.

"Although my legs were hurt, I was still fully conscious. I called for help in the dark for a while, but nobody answered. So I climbed up myself."

Two miners who were seriously injured were receiving treatment at a hospital affiliated to Jingmei Coal Mine Group, Wu Guolan, the hospital's director, told CCTV.

Baiyin has put aside 6.1 million yuan ($967,000) for a compensation fund for victims. Additional funds will be prepared, an official of the city government said.

In a separate accident on Monday morning, five coal miners from Defeng Coal Mine in Fugu county, Shaanxi province, died in a hospital after suffering a lack of oxygen underground.

Of the seven workers in the shaft, two survived. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Nineteen workers at a construction site in Wuhan, Hubei province, died on Sept 13 when steel cables pulling an elevator they were using broke at a height of 100 meters.

The elevator was overloaded, according to accident investigators.

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