Two South Korean miners rescued after surviving for days on coffee powder

Pair were trapped underground for nine days and pitched a tent to keep themselves warm

Two South Korean miners who were trapped underground for nine days survived on coffee powder, authorities have said, after the pair were brought to safety.

The men walked free from a collapsed zinc mine in the north-eastern county of Bonghwa late on Friday. They had been trapped in a vertical shaft about 190 metres (620ft) underground after the mine collapsed on 26 October.

Officials said the pair, aged 62 and 56, were in a stable condition. They “had instant coffee mix powder with them, and I was told they had that as a meal,” said Lim Yoon-sook, a fire department officer. “I’ve been also told they endured by drinking any water that dropped inside the shaft.”

The two pitched a tent inside the mine to keep themselves warm, the local Yonhap News reported, citing rescuers.

Family members were overjoyed. “I just yelled out ‘father!’,” a beaming Park Geun-hyeong, the son of one of the survivors, said of the moment they were reunited. “I told him: you’ve become a famous figure now.”

A woman surnamed Lim, a niece of the other survivor, said her uncle at first kept asking who she was, as he was wearing an eye patch after almost 10 days in the dark. He laughed when he finally recognised her. “This still feels surreal,” she said.

The news came during a period of national mourning in South Korea after more than 150 people were killed in a crowd crush in Seoul last week.

President Yoon Suk-yeol said in a Facebook message on Saturday that the men’s return was “truly miraculous”.

“Thank you and thank you again for coming back safely from the crossroads of life and death,” he wrote, also thanking rescue workers.

Contributor

Charlie Moloney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Iran releases South Korean tanker seized in January
Unclear whether deal reached to release billions in oil revenue frozen because of US sanctions

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

09, Apr, 2021 @8:49 AM

Article image
Fracking may have caused South Korean earthquake – study
Researchers analysed data from November quake and found main shock occurred near fracking site

Lily Kuo in Hong Kong

26, Apr, 2018 @11:01 PM

Article image
'Rasputin-like' friend of South Korean president returns amid protests
Park Geun-hye under intense scrutiny over relationship with Choi Soon-sil, accused of wielding undue influence on government

Justin McCurry

30, Oct, 2016 @5:59 PM

Article image
Criticism of South Korean MP's red dress stirs sexism debate
Ryu Ho-jeong, 28, says she wore colourful outfit to challenge male dominance in parliament

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

06, Aug, 2020 @3:20 PM

Article image
Thirteen North Korean restaurant workers defect to South Korea
Workers who managed North-controlled restaurant in unnamed third country admitted on humanitarian grounds

Tom Phillips in Beijing, and agencies

08, Apr, 2016 @12:18 PM

Article image
Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye on trial for corruption
Park accused of putting pressure on firms including Samsung into paying millions in bribes in return for business favours

Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies

23, May, 2017 @9:51 AM

Article image
Interpol elects South Korean as its president, in blow to Russia
Kim Jong-yang defeats Russian accused of overseeing police targeting of dissidents

Benjamin Haas in Seoul, Shaun Walker and agencies

21, Nov, 2018 @12:25 PM

Article image
Biden and South Korean president mull expanding joint military exercises
US president willing to meet Kim Jong-un, while Seoul says deployment of US ‘strategic assets’ was discussed

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

21, May, 2022 @10:18 AM

Article image
South Korean voters expected to return ruling party to power
Millions queue in masks for poll seen as referendum on handling of coronavirus

Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies in Seoul

15, Apr, 2020 @11:31 AM

Article image
South Korean president Park Geun-hye defies calls to quit
Park says she will accept result of Friday’s impeachment vote but would leave it to constitutional court to decide on its validity

Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies in Seoul

06, Dec, 2016 @8:00 PM