HANGZHOU, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least one person is dead and 16 are missing after a road caved in on a subway tunnel under construction in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Saturday, rescuers said.
Nineteen people were taken to hospital, said a spokesman with the rescue headquarters.
Witnesses and rescuers earlier said at least 50 people were trapped underground, but the exact number is still unknown. They are believed to be mostly construction workers.
Zhu Juzhong, a 56-year-old worker from the southwestern Sichuan Province, was being treated for his injuries at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in Hangzhou's Xiaoshan District.
"There is some distance between where I was working and the cave-in site. Lots of workers immediately rushed to the hoist to be lifted above ground. The height is about 10 meters," he said.
"Some colleagues who moved slowly were buried," he said.
About 30 workers managed to escape on the hoist, and three fell from the hoist during the rush, he added.
Thirteen vehicles were also trapped in a 75-meter-long, 50-meter-wide and 15-meter-deep crater after a section of road collapsed into the tunnel in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, at about 3:15 p.m..
Twenty-seven people traveling on a bus that was trapped in the crater escaped after the driver opened the door, witnesses said.
Water from a river flowing beside the cave-in site soon seeped into the tunnel. Its depth is estimated at about four or five meters and rising.
Five frogmen are searching for people trapped in the vehicles.
Provincial governor Lu Zushan has arrived at the site to oversee the rescue operation.
About 2,000 rescuers are struggling to pump water out of the tunnel and haul the vehicles from the crater.
Three vehicles had been pulled out by 8:45 p.m.
Construction of the first phase of Hangzhou's subway network was launched in late March last year, comprising sections of the No.1, No.2 and No.4 lines. The accident site is part of the No. 1 line.
The project will extend 68.79 kilometers from the city's northeast to the south at a total cost of 34.936 billion yuan (5.1billion U.S. dollars) upon completion in 2011.
A 47.97-km section of the No.1 subway line is being built as part of the project.
Hangzhou plans to establish eight subway lines with a total length of 278 kilometers by 2050, involving 100 billion yuan in investment.