9 Chinese miners pulled to safety

China's state television says nine miners were rescued after spending more than a week trapped in a flooded coal mine in the country's northern region.
A survivor is rescued from the flooded Wangjialing coal mine early Monday. ((Jason Lee/Reuters))

Rescuers in northern China pulled nine miners to safety early Monday, more than a week after they became trapped in a flooded coal mine, state television reported.

The nine men — among 153 miners trapped since March 28 — were wrapped in blankets, placed in ambulances and rushed to hospital, where teams of doctors and nurses had been standing by for several days.

China Central Television said more people in the Wangjialing mine in the northern province of Shanxi could still be alive but it did not give further details.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the men's blood pressure and heart rates were normal after spending 179 hours trapped underground.

It quoted one of the survivors, Li Guoyu, 38, from Henan province in central China, as saying they had gone without water because they were worried about drinking the dirty water flowing in the tunnel.

The workers became trapped after breaking a wall into a water-filled abandoned shaft, flooding the mine. About 3,000 people have worked around the clock using 14 pumps to suck the water out of the mine.

Rescuers worked around the clock to drain water from the flooded mine, Chinese state television reported. ((Jason Lee/Reuters))

Rescuers heard signs of life from the mine Friday. Footage on state television showed them tapping on pipes with a wrench, then cheering and jumping after hearing a response.

They lowered pens and paper, along with glucose and milk, down metal pipes to the spot where the tapping was heard.

But no sounds were heard later in the weekend as workers frantically pumped water out and sent divers into the mine to scout conditions.

Finally, just before 1 a.m. Monday, the first survivor was brought to the surface. A crowd of people outside the entrance to the mine shaft clapped as the miners were carried out.

Reporters who did not belong to state media were prevented from getting close to the site.

State news organizations did not say how many other survivors there may be.

A preliminary investigation last week found that the mine's managers ignored water leaks before the accident, Chinese officials said.

Accidents killed 2,631 coal miners in China last year, down from 6,995 deaths in 2002, the most dangerous year on record, according to the country's coal mine safety administration.