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Rescuers dig 17 men out of collapsed Vietnam mine

Written by: Staff

HANOI, Apr 3 (Reuters) Rescuers digging with their hands saved 17 workers from a collapsed coal mine in northern Vietnam at the weekend, but four others died, a mine company official today said.

By late yesterday, rescuers had lifted all the survivors trapped 80 m underground in the Mong Duong mine after a working chamber was flooded by water on Friday, the Mong Duong Coal Company official in Quang Ninh province said.

''It's lucky that 17 people were rescued,'' the official told Reuters by telephone from Mong Duong, 200 km northeast of the capital, Hanoi.

Early last month, a methane explosion killed eight workers in a mine in the same province.

The official said rescuers dug with their hands to reach the trapped workers because many tunnels had been mined in preparation for expansion.

''We reckoned we were dead,'' worker Vu Van Duong, one of the survivors, was quoted by state-run Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

Duong, trapped with five other workers in one mine section, told the paper they lit their torches and wrote their last wills on Saturday. Rescuers reached them yesterday.

Vietnam planned to raise the 2006 coal output by 7 per cent to 36.5 million tonnes this year to meet soaring industrial and export demand.

It mined 8.77 million tonnes of coal in the first three months of this year, up 15.8 per cent on a year earlier, government figures show. Coal exports in the period surged 54.7 per cent to 5.72 million tonnes, mainly to China.

Reuters SY GC0932

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