China Trapped Miners
Yang Ying  /  AP
In this Xinhua news agency photo, miner Wang Kuangwei receives medical treatments after being lifted out of the flooded Xinqiao Coal Mine.
updated 7/13/2009 11:08:06 AM ET 2009-07-13T15:08:06

Three miners survived 25 days trapped in a flooded mine in southern China by drinking dirty water and chewing coal, a local official and state media said Monday.

The men and 13 others were trapped when the Xinqiao Coal Mine flooded June 17. On Sunday, rescue workers burrowed through a collapsed tunnel and found the three miners sitting there holding mining lights, which still gave off a dim glow, said Wang Guangneng, a Communist Party spokesman in the Guizhou province county of Qinglong.

The miners stayed alive by drinking water that seeped through the earth, Wang said.

They also chewed on coal to stave off their appetite, the Guiyang Evening News, based in the provincial capital, reported.

No information on missing miners
It was not clear whether the men had any information on the others still missing. Rescuers had found the body of one miner a week after the flooding, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A Xinhua photo showed one of the rescued miners, Wang Kuangwei, his bones prominent through his skin, getting medical attention Sunday, with his eyes covered to protect them from the light. The party spokesman said the three men were in stable condition and will be transferred to a province-level hospital.

604 hours underground
The miners' rescue after 604 hours underground was a rare tale of survival in China's coal mines, the world's deadliest, where an average of 13 workers are killed every day. Most accidents are blamed on failures to follow safety rules, including a lack of required ventilation or fire control equipment.

In August 2007, two brothers were forced to chew on coal and sip their own urine from discarded water bottles after nearly six days in a mine tunnel. They even managed to crack jokes during that time about their wives remarrying after they were declared dead.

In Sunday's rescue, the miners were found 500 to 600 meters from the entrance to the mining shaft, on a level intersection that protected them from the flood, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported. The ceiling had collapsed, blocking a 10-meter-long section of the path toward the tunnel opening.

The county's head of work safety, Li Xingwei, was digging a channel into the mountain and found an unblocked pathway, then noticed the miners' lights, the newspaper said.

Rescuers shouted to the men to remain calm, the report said.

Once rescued, it said, the miners did nothing but ask for water.

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