More than 100 Chinese miners were pulled out alive Monday after being trapped for over a week in a flooded coal mine, where some ate sawdust and strapped themselves to the shafts' walls with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.
Rescued miners wrapped in blankets, some with their light-sensitive eyes covered but their feet bare, were hurried to waiting ambulances that sped wailing to nearby hospitals. One clapped on his stretcher and reached out his blackened hands to grasp those of rescuers on either side.
Rescuers in tears hugged each other at the scene, which was broadcast live on national television. The sudden surge in rescues was a rare piece of good news for China's mining industry, the deadliest in the world. A rescue spokesman said 115 survivors had been pulled out as of 4:30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT; 4:30 a.m. EDT).
"A miracle has finally happened," Liu Dezheng told reporters Monday morning, after the first nine miners were taken out shortly after midnight. "We believe that more miracles will happen."
Of the 153 initially trapped, there are still 38 miners in the shaft. Rescuers expressed confidence Monday they could be saved but did not say whether there had been any contact with them.