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Miners Rescued In China After 36 Days Underground

Four trapped miners in China have been rescued after spending 36 days underground, Chinese state media report.

The miners had been stuck in a gypsum mine in Shandong province since Dec. 25, after a collapse that killed at least one person and left more than a dozen missing.

In late December, NPR's Anthony Kuhn described the disaster for our Newscast unit:

"The mine's collapse was so powerful that China's national earthquake bureau measured its force as equal to a magnitude 4.0 earthquake," he said. "Two days after the accident, the mine's owner killed himself by jumping into a well and drowning."

Eleven miners escaped or were rescued within a day of the collapse. But the four trapped survivors weren't located until five days later.

The men were trapped in an intact section of the mine. Rescuers found them by using infrared cameras, Anthony reported, and lowered food down to them.

State news agency Xinhua initially reported that authorities made contact with eight trapped miners there, but the number was later changed to four. Thirteen miners are still missing, and one is confirmed dead.

Extracting the four surviving miners proved to be perilous: Rising water and the risk of a cave-in impeded efforts to drill down to their location. Three weeks ago, rescuers had drilled a total of seven access shafts and, while rescuers could send provisions in, they couldn't get the miners out, Xinhua reports.

But on Friday, the workers were finally raised to the surface, China's CCTV says.

As part of the effort, rescuers had prepared a capsule similar to the one used in 2010 to save 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days, Australia's Sky News reports.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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