Chinese miners rescued after 36 days underground | News | DW | 29.01.2016
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Chinese miners rescued after 36 days underground

Four miners have been pulled from a collapsed mine in eastern China after spending more than a month below ground. Eleven others have been rescued but one person died in the tragedy.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed one of the four miners being pulled out of one of two access tunnels emergency teams had drilled late on Friday.

Surrounded by cheering rescuers, the miners were immediately given covers for their eyes, wrapped in blankets and rushed to hospital for medical checks.

The men, aged between 36 and 58, had been trapped 200 meters (around 650 feet) underground for 36 days.

The mine extracts the mineral gypsum. Located in Shandong province, it collapsed on Christmas Day, causing a seismic event registering magnitude 4 on the scale, officials said.

One person was killed and 16 others were left trapped. Over the next few days, 11 other people in the mine at the time of the collapse made it to safety or were rescued.

Mine rescue teams

Rescuers used infared technology to locate the miners

Rescue teams used infared cameras to locate the four remaining miners, finding signs of life five days after the collapse.

A week later, when communications channels were opened, the miners told officials they were in underground passages that were intact.

Shortly afterwards, rescuers began slowly drilling a route to save them, sending food and clothes through four small tunnels until they finalized a way to pull the miners to safety.

The rescue was complicated by the structural instability of the tunnels due to difficult geological conditions, local media reported.

The gypsum mine, along with other pits, were ordered to stop production in October due to a risk of sinkholes. But according to the Beijing Times, it kept operating secretly.

Two days after the collapse, the owner of the mine - Ma Congbo - jumped into a well and drowned in an apparent suicide.

Four top officials in Pingyi county, where the mine is located, have been fired.

The world's largest coal producer, China has a terrible safety record. More than 930 people were killed in colliery accidents last year alone.

mm/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

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