A rescue team has found dozens of survivors in a flooded coal mine shaft in northern China, where 153 workers had been trapped for six days.
AFP - At least 95 workers have been found alive in a Chinese coal mine more than a week after they were trapped by an underground flood, in what state media has hailed as a miracle rescue.
"By this morning, a total of 95 workers have been found alive in the mine and... so far 30 have been taken out of the mine shaft," state television reported.
Scores of ambulances were seen lining the road out of the mine to transport the survivors after their ordeal, while numerous hospitals in the region have been getting ready to take in the men, the report said.
Miners rescued after week underground
A total of 153 workers had been trapped in the Wangjialing mine in the northern province of Shanxi since it flooded on March 28 during construction work, the latest accident in the notoriously dangerous minining industry.
China Central Television had earlier shown the first nine survivors carried out of the mine strapped to stretchers, wrapped in green blankets and had towels covering their eyes and blackened faces to protect them from lights.
Groups of rescue workers wearing orange jumpsuits loaded them into awaiting ambulances, while medical personnel dressed in white administered intravenous drips and oxygen.
State television replayed repeatedly the rescue scenes as China celebrated its annual "grave sweeping day," a national holiday to mourn the dead.
Thousands of people lined the road from the mine, applauding as ambulances carrying the first survivors rushed past, the state Xinhua news agency said, while the Beijing News described the rescue as a "miracle".
The vital signs of the first nine survivors were "basically stable," the China News Service said, quoting hospital officials in the city of Hejin, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the mine.
The nine, all part of the same work team, were dehydrated as they had refused to drink the water in the pit during their week-long ordeal, fearing contamination.
At least 3,000 rescuers had been racing against time to pump water out of the mine after it flooded.
Rescuers entered the mine over the weekend but said conditions were "complex" and there was more water in the shaft than anticipated.
On Sunday night, a team of 100 rescue workers descended into the mine again and discovered the nine survivors two hours later, the China News Service said.
As the first team of rescuers exited the mine with the survivors, a second team was dispatched into the pit to search for the remaining missing, the report said. Up to 300 rescuers were in the pit by mid-morning Monday.
The accident occurred when workers apparently dug into an older adjacent mine that had been shut down and filled with water, press reports have said.
The work safety watchdog blamed the accident on lax safety standards by the mine owner, the Huajin Coking Coal Company, which failed to heed repeated warnings that water was accumulating in the pit days before the disaster.
Workers at the mine, which was under construction, had also been ordered to step up the pace of work in order to ensure that coal production began by October this year, the safety watchdog said.
Workers' safety is often ignored in China's collieries in the quest for quick profits and the drive to meet surging demand for coal -- the source of about 70 percent of the country's energy.
According to official statistics, 2,631 coal miners were killed last year in China -- or about seven a day. In the deadliest recent disaster, 172 workers died in a mine flood in the eastern province of Shandong in August 2007.
Date created : 2010-04-04