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'Miracle' in China: 115 trapped miners rescued

Miners are pulled out alive after more than a week in flooded coal mine

In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, a rescued miner is taken to a hospital in Xiangning County, north China's Shanxi Province yester...

In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, a rescued miner is taken to a hospital in Xiangning County, north China's Shanxi Province yester...

More than 100 Chinese miners were pulled out alive yesterday after being trapped for over a week in a flooded coal mine, where some ate sawdust and strapped themselves to the shafts' walls with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.
Rescued miners wrapped in blankets, some with their light-sensitive eyes covered but their feet bare, were hurried to waiting ambulances that sped wailing to nearby hospitals. One clapped on his stretcher and reached out his blackened hands to grasp those of rescuers on either side.
Rescuers in tears hugged each other at the scene, which was broadcast live on national television. The sudden surge in rescues was a rare piece of good news for China's mining industry, the deadliest in the world. A rescue spokesman said 115 survivors had been pulled out as of 4:30 p.m. local time.
"A miracle has finally happened," Liu Dezheng told reporters yesterday morning, after the first nine miners were taken out shortly after midnight. "We believe that more miracles will happen."
Of the 153 initially trapped, there are still 38 miners in the shaft. Rescuers expressed confidence yesterday they could be saved but did not say whether there had been any contact with them.
Rescuers have been pumping water out of the flooded mine since last Sunday, when workers digging a tunnel broke into an old shaft filled with water.
The first signs of life from underground came Friday, when tapping could be heard coming up the pipes. Divers first headed into the tunnels over the weekend but found high, murky water and emerged empty-handed.
As the water level continued to drop, rescuers with rubber rafts squeezed through the narrow, low-ceilinged passages late Sunday and pulled out the first nine survivors just after midnight. Eleven hours later, the large wave of rescues began.
The miners had spent eight days underground and some were soaked through. Some had hung from shaft walls by their belts for days to avoid falling into the water when asleep. Later, they climbed into a mining cart that floated by.
One miner described eating sawdust and tree bark and drinking the murky water, the leader of one of the rescue teams, Chen Yongheng, told a news conference yesterday afternoon.