BEIJING – Seventeen miners are trapped in a coal mine in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in China while 256 others have escaped, local authorities said.
The miners were in a cage when its electric cable caught fire, causing the cage to fall at 2:35 p.m. local time (0635 GMT) Thursday and leaving the workers trapped inside, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Rescue teams are trying to free the miners. The cause of the accident is unknown.
“I was working underground when the accident happened. I smelt choking smoke in the shaft,” said one of the 256 workers who managed to escape.
According to official data, 171 miners died in 45 accidents in 2015, a considerable drop from the approximately 7,000 deaths related to coal mining accidents in 2002.
However, labor rights groups say the actual number of victims may be much higher as many incidents are not reported.