ALEXA LEG, China (AP) — Crews trying to find the 47 people missing after an open-pit mine collapse in northern China have had to change their drilling methods to avoid triggering more landslides, state media reported on Friday.
Six people have been confirmed dead and six injured have been rescued from the mine in Alaksa Dori in Inner Mongolia as of Thursday evening, CCTV reported.
With a large collapsed area in the mine, digging by bulldozers and bulldozers can lead to further collapse. The report said the crews were excavating through layers and descending in a trapezoidal shape to continue searching from both sides of the mountain in adjusting their rescue plans.
On Friday, heavy machinery was seen working on the top floor of the collapsed site, searching for trapped vehicles and missing persons.
“It is very difficult to conduct rescue work,” Li Zhongcheng, head of the Alexa Association of Inner Mongolia, told CCTV. “Rescue workers from everywhere, including those in the vicinity, are rushing to the site.”
The initial cave-in to one of the crater walls occurred around 1 p.m. Wednesday, burying people and mining trucks below with tons of rock and sand. A short video of the collapse posted on the Beijing Times website showed a massive wall of red dirt or sand pouring down an incline into mining vehicles moving below.
A subsequent landslide about five hours later halted rescue efforts before they resumed on Thursday.
CCTV said 1,160 rescuers are currently at the scene. They were seen using heavy machinery, shovels and rescue dogs in their search for the miners.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an “all-out” search and rescue effort.
Wang Xiangshi, the minister of emergency management, said the authorities should investigate the disaster and hold anyone responsible accountable.
Authorities in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region also issued an urgent notice requiring all regions to conduct safety checks and eliminate any hidden dangers, according to a local government newspaper. She said every level of government should learn lessons from the collapse and begin planning inspections of open-pit mines in the region immediately. She added that whoever does not comply with the request and causes accidents will be held accountable.
On Friday, security remained tight at a checkpoint between Inner Mongolia and the neighboring region of Ningxia, as two police officers in yellow vests checked vehicles trying to pass what one described as a “no-go” zone.
Some of the trucks were turned away from moving forward, but others including an emergency services vehicle which was going at great speed with sirens blaring and a truck carrying rescue supplies was let in. The checkpoint seemed much quieter compared to the day before.
The company that operates the mine, Inner Mongolia Xinjing Coal Industry Co., Ltd. has been fined. Ltd. , in the past year for multiple safety violations including unsafe roads, unsafe storage of volatile materials and a lack of safety training, according to news site The Paper.
Inner Mongolia is a major mining region for coal, minerals and rare earths that critics say has decimated the region’s landscape of mountains, grassy plains and deserts.
China relies heavily on coal for power generation, but has tried to reduce the number of deadly mine accidents by putting more emphasis on safety and shutting down smaller operations that lack the necessary equipment.
Associated Press news associate Carolyn Chen in Inner Mongolia contributed to this report.
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