In a country where seven workers a day die in mines, there was little cause for optimism. More than a week after millions of gallons of water flooded north China’s Wangjialing pit, even relatives abandoned hope for the loved ones trapped inside.
But today rescuers hailed a miracle as they pulled more than 100 miners to safety after eight days trapped underground. They had survived by strapping themselves to the walls, eating sawdust and sheer tenacity.
“This is probably one of the most amazing rescues in the history of mining anywhere,” David Feickert, a mine safety adviser to the Chinese government, told the Associated Press.
Officials had feared the flood in Shanxi province would be the most deadly mine disaster since 2007. Instead, rescuers wept, cheered and embraced as colleagues carried out survivors on stretchers, swathed in blankets and with cloth draped across their eyes to stop light damage after days of darkness. By mid-afternoon, 115 had emerged and teams were still seeking the remaining 38 trapped in the pit.