China: Miner Found Alive After 17 Years Underground

Ürümqui | A group of coal miners from the western province of Xinjiang had an unbelievable surprise when the gallery they were excavating opened up on a section of an old mine that was abandoned 17 years ago after an earthquake that caused some large sections of the tunnels to collapse.

While they were exploring the galleries, they stumbled upon Cheung Wai, a 59-year-old survivor from the 2001 accident, obviously in a rather bad shape.

Wai was immediately taken to the hospital where a complete evaluation of his physical and mental states will be done over the next weeks.

The poor man had remained trapped underground with the bodies of 78 of his dead coworkers after an earthquake of a magnitude of 7,8 hit the region and caused the wooden support structure of the mine to crumble and collapse.

Somehow lucky in his misfortune, Mr. Cheung was saved by the fact that a ventilation duct still connected his underground prison to the surface, allowing him access to air that was sufficiently pure to keep him alive.

Wai managed to survive thanks to an emergency stash of rice and water, stored in an underground depot, conceived especially for this kind of case.

The man complemented his diet by catching and eating the countless rats that pullulate in the mine, as well as collecting large quantities of some sort of phosphorescent moss, which constituted his only source of vitamins. 

Even though Wai was suffering from great physical and mental stress, he managed to give proper burials to all of his comrades, spending almost a year in this great selfless act.

Mining accidents remain common in China, despite growing measures by the government to reduce the problem, which killed more than 4000 miners a year at the beginning of the millennium.

Over the last years, the authorities have been cracking down on many unregulated mining operations which account for almost 80 percent of the country’s 16,000 mines.

The closure of about 1,000 dangerous small mines last year helped to cut in half the average number of miners killed, to about six a day, in the first months of this year, according to government statistics.

The case of Mr. Cheung remains unique, however, and constitutes a world record, according to the universally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement, Guinness.

The former record for surviving underground was of 142 days and was held by a British man named Geoff Smith. He had been voluntarily buried in the backyard of the Railway Inn, his favorite pub, with the intention of breaking the record.

14 Comments on "China: Miner Found Alive After 17 Years Underground"

  1. 17 yars. hmm… quote [ was saved by the fact that some ventilation duct still connected his underground prison to the surface, allowing him access to air that was sufficiently pure to keep him alive.] quote
    Man is made to survive and strugle to do this and escape from any disaster.

    Hard to belive this. In 17 years wiht bare hands and he dig to surface some how.
    Maybe he have tools or somting , or forece his minde to finde a way to escepe. But 17 years si way to long. And that is not a news to read in some sort of site , is world news for all of us!

    unbelievable ? yes! I doubt that would be true

    • HateStupidPeople | May 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm |

      I don’t think our friend ziglar read all the article.

      Ziglar, he did not dig himself out: a team of new miners dug him out without realizing it. Go read the article again before posting other useless comments. If you read everything on the internet like you did here, no wonder you’re a doubter.

  2. why is his hair freshly cut?

  3. Did he eat the rice, rats and moss raw? What was his fire source? Did he have lights for 17 years? How did he cut his hair & shave?

  4. If rats were getting in, certainly there was some way out. I would like to see a source too.

    • Rats are considerably smaller than human beings and are able to fit in places that people cannot.

  5. Keenan Reese | May 9, 2014 at 11:17 am | Reply

    I’m pretty sure child support enforcement felt the same way about my disappearance of 25 years. Except for the fact I was hiding in plain sight.

    • You do realize that there are laws now, that can make you pay back payments on child support, that you didnt pay, even if your kids are grown now and past the legal age. Yeah, a friend’s husband went years and didnt pay, and thought because the kids were over 18 now, that he’d gotten away with screwing his ex AND his kids out of what he owed them. But he was forced to back up and pay every single penny. Why would anybody WANT to shirk their responsibilities to their children? And then gloat about it? If you don’t want kids, keep your zipper closed, but if you DO help conceive them, then take the responsibility of helping raise them!

    • I actually know someone close that just settled like he was paying off a debt…. he offered like 2k even though he owed over ten… he said he wouldn’t give a dime more if they didn’t accept it as is..being that the kids were grown and he was older they accepted his offer and cleared the debt. So good sir you may be in luck!!

    • shutupbecky | May 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm |

      Shut up Becky get a job

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