Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cable thieves shafted in toxic mine

BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters Life!) - Two electric cable-stealing thieves in northeast China were rescued from a mine full of poisonous gas after spending 23 hours underground in a bid to evade police, state media reported on Tuesday.

The two men, from Jidong county, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, fled down a 1,500-meter (5,000-ft) shaft full of carbon monoxide after being caught stealing cabling at a mine in Hada village, Xinhua said, citing police.

"The colliery... had halted production for safety reasons and police believed it could cave in at any time," Xinhua said.

Police waited at the mine's exits, deployed search parties underground, and yelled down the shaft with a loudspeaker, "but hours of shouting met with no response," Xinhua said.

After 23 hours, police heard a "weak voice" calling for help, and rushed down the shaft to pull the men out.

The men had difficulties in breathing and walking, but later recovered at a local hospital, Xinhua said, citing police.

The men were arrested and charged with stealing electric cable worth about $60,000.

In October, a Chinese man wanted on gun charges gave himself up after hiding in a cave constructed at the back of his house for eight years.

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