China: Rescuers save all 29 miners from flooded coal mine

Miners, trapped for a day, were rescued barefoot and naked due to flooding; crowds celebrated as each miner was pulled out.

chinese miners rescued_311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
chinese miners rescued_311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
BEIJING — All 29 miners trapped in a flooded Chinese coal mine were lifted to safety Monday, ending a daylong rescue drama, state media reported.
The miners were trapped Sunday morning after the small Batian mine in southwest China's Sichuan province suddenly flooded. Rescuers initially thought only 28 were trapped but made contact with the workers Monday and revised the figure upward to 29.
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State broadcaster China Central Television showed a line of ambulances and large crowds waiting near the entrance to the mine and medics easing survivors wrapped in quilts onto stretchers after being led out of the mine.
The miners were barefoot and naked, their work clothes apparently drenched by the flood, and they wore blindfolds so the sunlight wouldn't hurt their eyes after more than 24 hours in the dark shafts.
The crowd erupted into celebratory applause and shouting as each miner was brought out.
China depends on coal for 70 percent of its energy production and its mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in coal mine accidents in 2009 alone.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Batian had stopped production and was being upgraded to increase its annual capacity from 50,000 tons to 60,000 tons. The workers had been underground for safety work, it said.
Though most of China's mining accidents occur in small, illegal mines, Xinhua quoted Lin Shucheng, chief of the provincial work safety bureau, as saying Batian's operation was legal and fully licensed.