Gas concentration hampers rescue for 17 trapped in NE China mine blast

Liaoyang (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - A concentration of gas has hindered rescue efforts for 17 miners who became trapped after a gas explosion hit a coal mine in northeast China`s Liaoning province at noon Thursday.

After 30 hours of rescue efforts, rescuers have been unable to reach the miners due to a dense concentration of noxious gas in the mine.

The trapped miners are believed to have gathered at a work platform located 169 meters underground, rescuers said.

An analysis of the gas showed that it remains concentrated at 15 percent, still too high to attempt a rescue, the local rescue headquarters said.

More than 150 rescuers have joined the rescue efforts thus far.

The gas explosion ripped through the Dahuang No. 2 Coal Mine in the city of Liaoyang on Thursday, killing at least five people and trapping 17 others.

A total of 23 miners were working underground at the time of the tragedy. One of them managed to escape.

The bodies of the five victims were lifted out of the shaft early Friday.

Two people who are in charge of the mine have been detained by local police. About 115 local officials have arranged to talk to the families of the trapped miners.

Local safety authorities said the mine`s operations were supposed to be suspended pending a safety check, but that the owner had restarted operations illegally.