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115 Rescued From China Mine, 38 Still Missing

At least 115 Chinese miners have been pulled alive from a flooded coal mine after more than seven days trapped underground.

Rescuers cheered and some shed tears as the latest survivors emerged alive Monday after more than a week trapped in a flooded mine in north China's Shanxi Province.

Officials were also relieved their round-the-clock rescue mission prevented one of the country's worse mining disasters.

The head of the province's Work Safety ministry, Luo Lin, was among thousands of relatives waiting desperately for news at the pit entrance after rescuers said they had heard voices deep within the mine shaft over the weekend.

It is a miracle in China's mining rescue history, Luo says. He thanked the rescuers for their effort as he counted the miners leaving the entrance.

By late evening Monday, 115 miners had been pulled out alive, China's state media said.

They were lead to waiting ambulances with their eyes covered to prevent the glare from lights.

All are said to be in a stable condition after being trapped in water for nine days.

They were able to breathe during their ordeal thanks to air pockets.

Three-thousand rescuers dug and pumped water for seven days to reach the miners at the Wangjialing Coal Mine, which is considered a modern facility.

The first survivors were brought to the surface shortly after midnight on Monday.

Attempts to reach the 38 who remain trapped are continuing.

One 153 people were believed to be trapped underground. But families say this is an underestimate, claiming many more were working in the mine at the time of the flooding.

A preliminary investigation last week found that officials had ignored reports of water leaks prior to the accident.

China relies heavily on coal to fuel its booming economy.

But it has some of the most dangerous mines in the world, with many mine bosses ignoring safety concerns to meet demand and chase profits.

The government has sought to improve safety in recent years by clamping down on illegal mines and this seems to have prevented many deaths.

According to official figures, 2,631 coal miners died in 1,616 mine accidents in China in 2009 – down 18 percent from the previous year.