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UPDATED: April 12, 2010 NO. 15 APRIL 15, 2010
Cherish Life

After a 200-hour ordeal, 115 survivors were successfully rescued from the flooded Wangjialing Coal Mine. This is a miracle in the history of Chinese mining rescues. Eight days ago, surging underground water trapped 153 workers in the mine.

As in many other Chinese coal mines, workers in the Wangjialing Coal Mine come from China's poorer areas, and income from the mine is usually the main source of income for the families of these workers. While coal mine owners and local governments seek higher profits and rapid economic growth, work safety is often overlooked. Recent years have seen frequent mining accidents in which numerous coal workers have been the victims. The Central Government has repeatedly emphasized work safety and increased punishment for violators, yet mining accidents caused by human factors still cannot be completely prevented.

In recent years, the Central Government has stated that economic development should be people-oriented. In this year's Government Work Report, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the government should allow people to conduct their lives with greater dignity. Governments at various levels have given intense attention to the flooding of the Wangjialing Coal Mine, and spared no efforts in rescuing the workers.

Rescuers and supplies have been sent to the coal mine from many parts of China, and more than 3,000 rescuers have been working day and night to save the trapped miners. Over 20 pumps have removed 165,900 cubic meters of water from the mine shaft, and both kayaks and divers have been sent into the mineshaft to search for survivors. The Shenyang Institute of Automation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have provided their deep-sea rescue robots. Shanxi Province has sent its best medical resources to the site and a number of hospitals from outside of the province, such as the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, have dispatched experts to take part in the rescue operation. A total of 153 ambulances have been waiting on site, and a medical group has been available to treat every rescued miner.

The rescue plan has been well-devised. Rescuers have employed several methods simultaneously, including pumping out water, and drilling holes to send in fresh air and bags of nutritious liquid.

The surviving miners have created a miracle with their perseverance and ingenuity. Some miners ate the bark of pit props and drank dirty water to sustain their lives. Some had been soaked in cold water for days, while others tied themselves to the shaft ceiling with their clothes for eight days to keep them above the flood water, and still others climbed into drifting mine cars. A group of 106 workers managed to dig into an abandoned tunnel and climb to higher ground in order to keep themselves safe. Though the miners are but ordinary people, they did a great job in surviving this disaster.

Although a miracle did occur at Wangjialing, we must keep in mind that miracles do not always happen. We cannot gamble with fate by putting people's lives at stake. The Wangjialing mining accident is a somber reminder that we should refuse to make certain sacrifices for gains in economic growth, and must place human lives first. We hope that the Wangjialing mining accident will be the last accident of its type. 

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