At least 114 Chinese miners have been pulled alive from a flooded coal mine after more than seven days trapped in the pitch dark, prompting cheers from officials who hailed the rescue a miracle.
Officials said 153 miners had been trapped in the unfinished Wangjialing mine in Xiangning, Shanxi province, after it filled with water last Sunday.
The survivors were pulled out late on Sunday night and on Monday, with dozens still missing. The survivors' condition was reported as stable.
‘It's a miracle,’ rescue worker Wei Fusheng told Xinhua news agency. ‘It's been worth all our efforts. No sleep for several days.’
China has the world's deadliest coal-mining industry, with more than 2,600 people killed in mine floods, explosions, collapses and other accidents last year.
‘Rescuers are continuing the search for 39 trapped miners. The rescue work is still challenging,’ Wang Jun, governor of Shanxi province, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
The survivors were brought out on stretchers to loud cheering and clapping from scores of rescue workers who had worked for the past week to save the miners' lives.
Ambulances lined the road out of the mine to take the survivors to hospital.
Thousands of family members awaiting news of their loved ones and other onlookers stood along the road, bursting into applause when the ambulances passed by.
‘I would be more than happy to see whoever is brought out of the mine, even if it's not my father,’ said one young man.
The government had mobilised 3,000 rescue workers to pump out water and search for the miners, but hopes of anyone emerging alive appeared to dim until rescuers heard knocking on a mine pipe on Friday.
After frantic pumping, the water level dropped low enough for rescue workers to enter the shaft.