After eight days trapped underground more than 100 miners were rescued from a flooded underground coal mine in northern China – one of the nation’s rare successful rescue attempts.
A total of 115 miners were pulled out alive from the flooded mine yesterday, according to Xinhua News.
Rescuers are now struggling to reach another 39 workers believed to be still trapped inside, although authorities say hopes are low for their survival.
The miners were part of a larger group of 261 working in the state-owned Wangjialing mine in Shanxi when it flooded during construction work on 28 March.
More than 100 miners were rescued immediately after the flooding.
Soon after, more than 3,000 workers tried to pump water out of the mine so they could reach the trapped miners.
The water level underground dropped by 2.6m by midday on Friday after 57,900m3 had been pumped from the shaft.
On Sunday night a team of 100 rescue workers descended into the mine again, two hours later they had found the first of nine survivors.
One survivor was reported to have kept himself alive by strapping himself to the shaft wall to stop himself from drowning throughout the ordeal; others said they survived by eating tree bark – all survivors are said to be suffering serious malnutrition and are being treated in hospital.
It is believed the accident happened after workers accidentally dug into an old, water-filled mine alongside the one they were working in.
Official statistics show that 2,631 people were killed in mine accidents in China in 2009 while 6,995 were killed in 2008.