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Catch sight of the Phoenix

THE Chilean rescue capsule "Phoenix 1" is on display in the Chile Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, sparking debate about safety and rescue work in the domestic mining industry.

"Mine accidents occur from time to time in China and I hope the Chinese government can learn from the Chilean experience," said Xiang Zhengdi, a visitor from Shanghai.

Jorge A. Iglesias, managing director of the Chile Pavilion, said the Expo is the best place to show the capsule to the world.

"It's very important that the world sees the capsule, the means to rescue 33 miners," he said.

"Phoenix 1" was a backup capsule for "Phoenix 2," which was used to rescue the miners trapped underground for 69 days.

China is the world's largest coal producer. Its annual output increased from 1.3 billion tons in 2003 to 3.05 billion tons in 2009, while the annual death toll from mine accidents dropped from 7,000 to 2,631.

However, Huang Yi, Chief Engineer of the State Administration of Work Safety, said more still needed to be done to improve safety in China's coal mine industry.

Mei Haixing, 59, said although he had visited the Chile Pavilion before, he had returned to have a look at the capsule.

"The success of the rescue mostly relied on high technology which should be shared with China and the rest of the world," Mei said.

A group of engineers also came to see the capsule. Yang Xiaojing, senior engineer of the mine safety product team with the Xi'an Dongfeng Instrument Factory, said his team has been working on the development of safety and rescue technologies for more than three years.

"We came to study it and get some ideas to help our research," said Yang.

Yang said that as well as the capsule, another reason the rescue was successful was the emergency shelter where the miners found refuge.

Emergency shelters are mandatory in many foreign countries and some Chinese companies have been developing life-saving cabins, he said.

Yang's colleague, senior engineer Bai Jiancheng, said their company had developed an emergency cabin, which allows 12 people to live in for 120 hours with oxygen, food, water, and first-aid equipment - it can be triggered by a single button.

"This kind of facility will give more time for miners awaiting rescue," Bai said.


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