45 Chinese coalminers freed after cave-in that killed eight
Rescue workers haul men to safety, digging 500-metre rescue tunnel into mineshaft hit by 'rock burst' explosion
After Thursday's cave-in at least 200 workers dug a small rescue tunnel about 500 metres deep to reach the trapped miners, the People's Daily newspaper said. The first seven were pulled out alive on Friday.
On Saturday state broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers with helmets and oxygen tanks carrying the workers out of the mineshaft to ambulances.
The rescue is the biggest in the country since April 2010 when 115 miners were pulled out alive after being trapped for eight days in a mine in northern China.
Luo Lin, head of the state work safety authority, praised the rescue after the last miner was rushed away in an ambulance but said more work needed to be done to promote safety.
"The alarm bell of work safety must keep ringing. Enterprises should pay attention to work safety when the coal demand is high ... They should not allow any operation that violates (safety) rules or regulations," he said.
Luo said a magnitude-2.9 earthquake had occurred on Thursday near the mine shortly before a "rock burst" was reported. The phenomenon occurs when settling earth bears down on mine walls and causes a sudden release of stored energy. The exploding chunks of coal and rock, or the shockwaves alone, can be lethal.
CCTV said the rescue work had been hindered by large amounts of coaldust thrown up by the explosion.
China's coalmines are the deadliest in the world, although the industry's safety record has improved in recent years as smaller illegal mines have been closed. Annual fatalities are now about one-third of the high of nearly 7,000 in 2002.
On 30 October a gas explosion at a coal mine in central China's Hunan province killed 29 workers, the worst accident in recent months.
The mine that caved in on Thursday belongs to Yima Coal Group, a large state-owned coal company in Henan, the work safety administration said on its website. Fourteen miners managed to escape when the accident happened, the official Xinhua news agency said.
State-run mines tend to have better rescue equipment and safety practices than smaller mines.