Two workers have been rescued after being trapped for more than a week deep underground in a southern China mine collapse in which eight people died and 12 were still missing.
Rescuers acknowledged the chances of finding more of the missing alive was increasingly unlikely at the coalmine in Heshan city, in Guangxi region, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.
The two men, Liu Jiagan, 41, and Qin Hongdang, 35, told rescuers in weak voices that they survived by drinking water that seeped down from the shaft. They were taken to hospital and were in stable condition, the report said.
Rescuers - who have been offered $288,000 for each worker they pull out alive – said they had heard faint sounds coming from the trapped miners at 3am local time on Sunday, AFP reported. Eight bodies had been removed as of Sunday.
The two survivors were found in a ventilation shaft 320 meters underground that was filled with sludge but still had space for air to pass, Ye Fangyong, the deputy head of the rescue operation said. Most of the 71 miners working underground when the accident occurred on July 2 managed to escape.
China’s coalmines have a notoriously poor safety record.
In 2010, 2433 people died in coalmine accidents in China, according to official statistics.
But the toll is estimated by rights groups as being much higher due to under-reporting as mine bosses try to avoid punishment.
Meanwhile, three rescuers died of heat stroke in fighting a coal mine fire on Sunday in east China’s Shandong Province, the state-owned Chinese Radio International reported.
They were obstructed by fire burning points under the mine shaft as they were scrambling to approach 28 miners who have remained trapped since the mine fire broke out on Wednesday.
A spokesman with the rescue headquarters said all of the three rescuers died of heat stroke because of working in high temperatures. The temperature in the mine shaft reached 60 degrees Celsius and exceeded 80 degrees in some areas, rescuers said.
A total of 91 people were trapped after an air compression device located in a parking lot 255 meters underground caught fire. Sixty-three miners were rescued as of Thursday.
More than 1,000 rescuers have worked in rotation in the rescue operation.