Fourteen rescued after 131 hours underground

21 July 2014

Fourteen workers were rescued from a railway tunnel collapse in southwest China's Yunnan Province in the early hours of Sunday 20 July after more than five days trapped underground, Xinhua News Agency reported.

One person remains missing and the rescue operation continues.

People cheered and applauded in laughters and tears as the 14th trapped worker was brought out of the tunnel at 2:58am on Sunday.

Ambulances waiting at the entrance to the tunnel immediately took the survivors to the People's Hospital in Funing County, where the tunnel is located.

"They look OK, but need a thorough examination. Plus we believe they will need psychological counselling later. We have made plans to help them recover," said Xu Heping, the deputy chief of the provincial health department.

The about 20 meters of the 13.5km tunnel collapsed at around 4pm Monday 14 July. More than 400 rescuers worked to free the trapped men.

At 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday (15 July 2014), rescuers managed to drill after more than 27 hours of rescue work and sent food, water and flashlights to the workers inside, while they tried to remove the obstructions. The trapped workers helped to fix the broken electric wires on Wednesday (16 July 2014) and the power supply to the trapped area resumed.

However, in the following days, the rescue operation suffered a major setback as the drilling machine broke down, said Wang Jingjiang, deputy general manager of the railway company that runs the tunnel.

Using smaller rigs avoided tough obstructions, but slowed progress. A small tunnel was finally opened up on early Sunday morning, said Wang.

Investigation into the cause the accident is underway.