'Miracle' Rescue of 115 Miners Trapped for More Than Week

Miners survived flooded shaft by eating sawdust and hanging by their belts.

ByABC News
April 5, 2010, 10:52 AM

BEIJING, April 5, 2010 -- More than 100 miners who survived eight days in a flooded shaft by hanging by their belts and eating sawdust were brought to the surface today in what one Chinese official called a "miracle."

China's state-run television showed live images of the rescuers in tears, cheering and hugging each other as the survivors were brought out one by one in stretchers, wrapped in blankets and loaded into waiting ambulances.

"It is a miracle in China's mining rescue history," said Luo Lin, who heads the government agency in charge of work safety.

The leader of a rescue team, Chen Yongsheng, told state media the rescuers still have to reach two or three underground mine platforms to search for the remaining 38 miners.

An army of 3,000 personnel was mobilized by Chinese authorities for a round-the-clock operation to rescue 153 miners who got trapped in a flooded mine in north China's Shanxi province.

Their efforts paid off today with the "miracle rescue" of 115 miners. The miners were already in their eighth day underground when rescuers were finally able to reach them. They had been trapped since March 28 when workers digging a tunnel broke into an abandoned shaft filled with water.

The rescue teams had been pumping water out of the mine for days. When the water level finally dropped to a certain point, the rescuers were able to enter the pit on rubber rafts, going through the murky waters in the narrow, low-ceilinged passageway.

They managed to pull out the first nine survivors early Monday morning, prompting the state broadcaster to break into unprecedented live reports from the mining area, recording the building excitement as more men were brought to the surface.