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Chinese miners rush to dam up a river leading to the Zhangzhuang mine in Xintai city, frantically trying to save 181 workers trapped in two flooded coal mines, even as officials admitted there was little hope of finding anyone alive. - 


Doug Krizner: A mine-rescue conference gets underway today in Nashville. It couldn't come at a better time. The collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah buried six miners four weeks ago, and in China recently, nearly 200 workers perished when water flooded a coal mine. Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio:

Janet Babin: The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration is hosting the Nashville conference.

More than a dozen countries will be represented, including China, home to the world's deadliest mines. Participants will hold a mock rescue competition and review the latest robotic gear.

But John Siciliano with "Energy Washington Week" says the conference should address what's caused safety standards to slacken recently. He says mine operators have rushed to meet an increased demand for coal.

John Siciliano: A lot of these mines rely on the actual coal in them, to support them, to hold up the ceiling so to speak. If you're going to try to get more coal out of these mines, then it's going to become a safety concern.

Advances in scrubber technology have made coal-fired power plants cleaner. Utilities have responded by buying more coal. Siciliano predicts that high demand, will continue.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.