Rescuers carried at least 115 coal miners out of a north China mine alive Monday, more than a week after flooding trapped 153 of them. Rescue efforts were ongoing for the remaining trapped miners.
The accident, which happened on March 28 at the Wangjialing mine in Shanxi Province, has been closely followed in the local media. After more than a week, many had lost hope for the miners. (See graphics of the unfinished mine complex from the Rednet news site here and here.)
"It is a miracle in China's mining rescue history," said Luo Lin, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, who [was] waiting at the pit entrance.
"Scientific methods and technology used in the rescue have ensured [that] the survivors [were] rescued alive after being trapped underground for a week," said Shanxi Party chief Zhang Baoshun.
Zhang said he'd been told that most of the survivors were in stable condition and able to talk, Xinhua reported.
In a commentary posted on the CNHubei.com website, an author surnamed Yang described the ordeal as a test of China's strength, and sent encouraging wishes to the remaining trapped miners. "We made it through the earthquake, the H1N1 flu made us stronger, and from this accident hope will be born ... stand firm brothers -- we are with you!"
But a reader of QQ's news website expressed skepticism, posting under the handle "Retie" this reaction to the rescue news: "Really? Do you believe it? I don't – what about photos? ... How come they didn't take photos of any of the rescued miners? I despise the irresponsible media."
China's state-run English-language TV station CCTV-9 reported that the ordeal began when workers accidentally dug into an old network of water-filled shafts.
Reuters noted that China has the deadliest coal mining industry in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in flooding and other mining accidents in 2009. It blamed China's poor record on "strong demand for energy and lax safety standards."
Reuters said hopes for rescuing the miners alive had dimmed by Friday, only to dramatically recover.
The government had mobilized 3,000 rescue workers to pump out water and search for the miners, but hopes of anyone emerging alive appeared to dim until rescuers heard knocking on a mine pipe on Friday.
After frantic pumping, the water level dropped low enough for rescue workers to enter the shaft.
Sina.com showed video from state-run CCTV shortly after 2 p.m., with miners continuing to be brought out, covered in blankets, and carried to ambulances amid applause from bystanders.
See here for complete coverage in Chinese of the Wanjialing accident at Sina.com, with photos, video, charts, diagrams, and a list of past Chinese coal-mining accidents.