08/01/2007, 00.00
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Shanxian, all 69 miners miraculously safe

They spent over three days trapped in the mine, flooded by heavy rains which hit the area. Key to their survival; an air conduit that permitted oxygen to pass and a direct telephone line to rescuers.

Beijing  (AsiaNews/Agencies) – They are safe and well, even if tried by their horrible adventure, all of the 69 minors trapped for over three days within a coal mine in Zhijiancoal, Shanxian (a county  200 kilometres west of Zhengzhou, the capital of  Henan). After 72 hours of anxious waiting, today at 12:45 local time they were hauled to safety: the first to emerge was Nam Jianning (see photo), almost blinded by the sunlight and with difficulty in moving due to prolonged immobility: those present greeted each of the workers with shouts of joy as they emerged from the bowls of the mines, to the final burst of applause at the appearance of the last of he 69 miners, Cao Baicheng.

“Most miners could not walk on their own, - rescuers told - while some miners had to be put on stretchers”. An intact ventilation pipe and a telephone line were key to the rescue of the miners, who had felt weak and cold. Rescuers sent down milk to the miners via a hose installed down through the ventilation pipe.

More than 500 colleagues have been working around the clock to pump out flood water and remove mud and rocks that blocked a 280-metre passage between where the trapped miners were and the pit entrance.

There were 102 miners working underground when the accident happened Sunday last due to the ceaseless rainfall in the area, thirty-three escaped. The state-owned mine has a designed annual production capacity of 210,000 tonnes but actually produces 300,000 tonnes a year. According to security sources this rescue operation is “miraculous”, because it is extremely rare and lucky that ventilation pipes and telephone lines survived such an accident.

Meanwhile inquiries are underway into a mine in Xiangning (Shanxi), where owners hid for over one month the death of over 9 workers in a tunnel flood on July 5th.  The tragedy emerged only thanks to the report of an anonymous source to the Administration for Safety in the Workplace.


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