(4th LD) 2 trapped miners miraculously walk out alive after 9 days | Yonhap News Agency

(ATTN: UPDATES with details of briefings from fire authorities, hospital in paras 9-16)

BONGHWA, South Korea, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) — Two miners trapped for more than nine days in a collapsed zinc mine in southeastern South Korea walked out alive Friday, authorities said, a miraculous ending to rescue efforts that once looked bleak.

The pair had been stuck in a vertical shaft about 190 meters underground at a zinc mine in the county of Bonghwa, 244 kilometers southeast of Seoul, since the mine collapsed on Oct. 26.

Rescue authorities said the two, both nicknamed Park and aged 62 and 56, came out at 11:03 pm after 221 hours underground. They are in stable health condition and have been sent to a hospital.

Rescuers said the miners have pitched a tent with plastic and made a fire inside a tunnel to fend off cold.

The miners were waiting inside and relying on each other with hope as they heard the sound of the blast from the rescue authorities, according to one of the rescuers.

The miners subsisted on instant powdered coffee that they brought with them when they went to work and by drinking water falling down the shaft after using up the coffee.

Rescue workers began a search for the two on Thursday by drilling a hole and inserting an endoscope in an effort to reach the point where the two men were trapped, 190 meters underground.

“My father walked out of the tunnel on his own two feet in good health. It’s unbelievable,” Park Geun-hyung, a son of the 62-year-old miner said.

“They were rescued at a site a little bit spacious near the accident site, and they had kept themselves warm with a bonfire and plastic and subsisted by drinking water that fell from the ceiling,” Yoon Yeong-don, chief of the Bonghwa fire authorities , said during a press briefing Saturday.

The site where they were discovered was a circular 100-square-meter space about 30 meters away from where they worked, where shafts from all sides are interlinked.

Bang Jang-seok, one of the rescuers, said the miners appear to have escaped to the spot to survive without staying where they were buried.

“The two miners were shoulder to shoulder to keep themselves warm when they were discovered,” he said.

He attributed their miraculous survival to the miners’ composed behavior based on the older one’s experience in the job and a contingency manual provided by their company.

Doctors at Andong Hospital, located in the nearby city of Andong, expect the two patients to be able to be discharged from the hospital after a full recovery in several days.

“We expect the two will be able to leave the hospital in days,” Bang Jong-hyo, the doctor of the two, said during a press briefing at the hospital. “They are in quick recovery, mentally and physically. I bet they were in good physical state before.”

He said they were to start eating meals with porridge for lunch.

President Yoon Suk-yeol hailed their return.

“This is truly miraculous,” Yoon said in a Facebook post. “I am thankful and thankful again to them. My heart is deeply touched.”

Yoon also praised the rescue workers.

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(4th LD) 2 trapped miners miraculously walk out alive after 9 days | Yonhap News Agency

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