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19 China miners rescued after week, three more missing

BEIJING (AP) — Their faces black with coal dust, 19 miners trapped for a week underground were pulled to safety Tuesday in northeastern China as rescuers searched for three missing colleagues.

Helmeted teams brought each man up on a stretcher, their faces blackened and their eyes covered to avoid damaging sun exposure after so long in the dark. The provincial governor greeted each of the 19 and assured them the rescue work was continuing.

“We are doing everything we can to save your colleagues,” Wang Xiankui said in footage shown on state broadcaster CCTV.

Twenty-six miners had been trapped in galleries relatively near the surface when water poured into a shaft on Aug. 23 from an adjacent, flooded mine. Three had been pulled out alive Saturday and one body was recovered.

The survivors, who were hospitalized in stable condition, were able to keep their helmet lamps operating for the 165 hours they were trapped. They sustained themselves with water that dripped from the ceiling and later nutrition packs sent through a 920-foot (280-meter) pipe drilled through the rock, which also provided fresh air.

The Hengtai mine in Heilongjiang province was ordered shut in 2007 but reopened without permission on Aug. 16.



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