- Free at last: 33 miners and six rescuers pulled out safely
- 'Couple of days' to reach Beaconsfield miners
Beijing: Four Chinese miners have been rescued after spending 36 days trapped underground in a collapsed mine.
Chinese miners rescued after 36 days underground
Four Chinese miners have been lifted from a gypsum mine that collapsed on Christmas day in Pingyi, Shandong province.
After a painstakingly protracted rescue reminiscent of the Beaconsfield Mine collapse in 2006, the four men were pulled to safety on Friday night, in dramatic scenes relayed live on national television.
The gypsum mine in Pingyi, in China's eastern Shandong province, collapsed on Christmas Day. Eleven miners were either able to escape or were rescued from the rubble immediately. One miner was found dead and another 13 remain missing, presumed dead.
It was five days into the rescue effort that the first signs of life were detected some 200 metres below ground from the four men who were eventually rescued. Rescue workers passed food and water to the trapped miners through a narrow borehole as they worked on drilling two access tunnels.
On Friday, state broadcaster CCTV showed the miners being pulled out one by one, via a safety harness attached to a steel cable lowered through a rescue tunnel. The first miner to be rescued, 50-year-old Zhao Zhicheng, emerged to loud cheers from rescue workers, his blackened face strained with emotion.
China's news media has given wide coverage to the mine disaster and subsequent rescue effort, drawing comparisons to the 33 miners in Chile who were rescued in 2010 after being trapped for 69 days underground.
Despite safety improvements in recent years, China's mines remain blighted by accidents, while factory and other fatal industrial accidents are also common.
Two days after the Pingyi mine collapse, the mine's owner Ma Congbo jumped into a mine well in an apparent suicide. Four local officials in the county have been fired over the disaster.