China miners rescued after knocking on pipe

It was neither shouting nor any electronic communication but daily knocks on a drill pipe that helped the miners, trapped hundreds of metres underground in China, tell rescuers that they were still alive.

On 10 January, following an unexplained explosion in a mine in Qixia in Shandong province in eastern China, 22 workers were trapped at a depth of about 600 metres. Two weeks later, on 24 January, 11 of them were brought back to surface after non-stop attempts by the hundreds of workers involved in their rescue.  

The rescued miners revealed that every day one of them used to knock on a drill pipe that was coming to the surface. On 17 January,  when one of them, Wang Kang knocked on the pipe five times – to indicate that they were in the fifth section of the mine – they were finally heard by rescuers, who knocked back in response.

Mr Wang said: “I heard over 20 knocks, but I didn’t understand. I went back to discuss it with the other miners. We thought that could mean the number of miners underground, so I returned and responded with 22 knocks,” reported the BBC News.

The miners were provided with food, medicine and other items required through a rescue shaft. After their rescue, the miners revealed that when the explosion happened they were working in different sections but the accident damaged entry to the mine and affected all communications with those on the ground.

“It blasted us really far away, and our safety helmets cracked. After it was over, we quickly tried to look for other people,” Mr Wang said.

Another rescued worker,  Du An, said when they heard the drills for the shaft nearing them all of they stood up as they were too excited.

“There are no words to describe this feeling. I feel like I am reborn,” Mr Du said. He stated there was plenty of water where they were stuck but not very suitable for drinking so they consumed only a little bit to survive.

“We comforted each other with encouraging words. That’s how we pulled through,” he said.

Mining accidents are common in China. Between September and December 2020, in separate incidents, a total of 39 mineworkers have died.  

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