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Wangjialing Coal Mine Rescue
Wangjialing Coal Mine Rescue
UPDATED: April 12, 2010 NO. 15 APRIL 15, 2010
Miracle Rescue
Trapped miners were saved following a lengthy and dramatic rescue, yet a crucial phase of the operation now ensues

RACE AGAINST TIME: Rescuers carry pumps on the site of the flooded Wangjialing Coal Mine in north China's Shanxi Province on March 29 (YAN YAN)

Just after midnight, the first nine survivors were pulled safely from the mine.

At approximately noon on April 5, rescuers emerged with the second batch of the 106 survivors.

The survivors were then carefully brought to waiting ambulances and rushed to nearby hospitals for medical check-ups and treatment.

According to China News Service reports, the survivors were weak but lucid, and able to speak in spite of their ordeal, identifying themselves to doctors.

"After such a long time in the water, many of the survivors had partially ulcerated skin and some had paraphasia," a doctor was quoted as saying.

Liu Qiang, a medical expert involved in the rescue, said that after being trapped for more than 179 hours, the survivors were very weak and suffered from malnutrition.

The workers survived underground by subsisting on sawdust, tree bark and turbid water, said Chen Yongsheng, one of the rescue team leaders, to CCTV.

Some miners attached themselves using their belts to the wall of the mine, in order to avoid falling into the water while sleeping, and hung there for three days before climbing into a mining cart that floated by, CCTV reported.

Wang Renfang, a survivor of flooded Wangjialing Coal Mine, cried when he had a phone call with his wife at a hospital on April 8. In the meantime, many family members and relatives were waiting outside the hospitals before meeting their sweethearts.

"I can't wait to go into the hospital to visit my husband," said Sun Huan, wife of a miner called Li Guoyu, holding her year-old son. She said she had two boys, and her husband was the only breadwinner in the family.

To assist with their treatment, medical experts, including psychological consultants, were sent to the mine by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Xinhua reported that on April 6, 60 of the rescued workers, whose injuries were worse than others but not life-threatening, were sent to hospitals in Taiyuan, capital city of Shanxi. Each of these 60 rescued workers was provided with a personal doctor, a nurse, a psychiatrist and a volunteer assistant.

Rescue continues

Just after the 115 miners were pulled safely from the flooded mine, rescuers found the bodies of five workers inside the mine on the night of April 5.

The death toll rose to six on the afternoon of April 6, according to Shanxi Governor Wang Jun. And another body was found on the early morning of April 7.

At approximately 11 a.m., the rescue headquarters reported that the exact location of the remaining miners still trapped in the mine had been ascertained by the rescuers.

The rescue operation had now entered its most challenging phase, said Liu Dezheng.

CCTV reported that a highly-explosive gas had accumulated in the pit, and that in addition to the threat of a gas explosion, rescue workers still faced the difficulty of pumping out water that prevented access to the lowest part of the shaft.

According to Liu, the rescue headquarters were adjusting plans to overcome these new challenges in the rescue effort.

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