Several rescued from China mine

Rescue workers in China have freed nine miners trapped in a flooded coal mine for more than a week.

Chinese state television carried live pictures of the men being rushed to hospital on Sunday after they were rescued from the Wanjialing mine in China's northern Shanxi province.

Footage showed the rescued miners wrapped in green blankets on stretchers, with their eyes covered to protect them from light after having spent more than a week in the darkness of the mine.

Six of the men were being given emergency treatment, while the vital signs of the other three appeared to be stable, hospital officials in Hejin, about 50km (30 miles) from the mine, told the AFP news service. 

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from outside the mine, says that men are in an extremely poor physical state and have not been identified.

"They were in a very weakened condition," he said. "They haven't been able to speak. They haven't been identified and relatives have not able to visit the hospital."

They were freed forty minutes after being found by rescue workers who entered the shaft earlier on Sunday. A second rescue team has been dispatched into the mine in search of the 144 miners that are still missing.

'Difficult' conditions

Doctors on the scene said they were ready to treat any more survivors that were pulled from the shaft.

"The main thing we are prepared to treat is exhaustion because they have been trapped for so long with no support or nutrition, no sunlight, air or water," Dr He Xiuming, on standby at the mine from a nearby hospital, said.

The coal mine flooded on March 28 after miners digging tunnels broke into an abandoned shaft.

State media said that the shaft flooded with the equivalent of more than 55 Olympic swimming pools of water.

Rescuers and divers were able to partially enter the mine in the early afternoon on Saturday as the water level dropped after days of pumping, but divers described the conditions as "very difficult".

Signs of life
On Friday, tapping sounds were heard coming from within the mine, but no signs of life had been heard since then and hopes of finding survivors had begun to fade.

Early investigations by China's work safety administration found that the mine's managers ignored water leaks from the abandoned mine before the accident.

China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world, despite government efforts to reduce fatalities.

Most accidents are blamed on failure to follow safety rules or lack of required ventilation, fire controls and equipment.

 

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