You may have heard the good news: 115 miners have been rescued from the Shanxi coal mine they had been trapped in for over a week. From the LA Times:
The extraordinary rescue turned into a round-the-clock reality show with state-run CCTV broadcasting live footage of the rescue workers carrying out the miners to a cheering audience. Crews were still hoping Monday night to bring out 38 more.
Although the miners had their faces wrapped with towels to protect their eyes after so many days in darkness, their elation was evident. Even lying flat on his back, one was clapping and gave a high-five to a rescuer.
“They were in high spirits,” Chen Yongsheng, the chief rescue worker, told Chinese television.
I bet they were. Miners in China die with such frequency that reports of mining disasters are white noise. Did you know there were twelve other mining related disasters in March alone? Did you know that those disasters resulted in 104 deaths and dozens more people “missing”? Did you know that there has already been a mining disaster in April (nine dead)?
Don’t get me wrong, the media elation over this rescue is totally understandable. After all, everybody loves a win, and this was one hell of a win. But peruse this site — a month by month table of Chinese mining disasters that runs back to 2005 — for a few minutes and you may start to wonder why we only hear about the miners when they live.
This rescue is a miracle, and I’m sure the miners and their families are ecstatic, but China loses a hundred miners every year for each one they save. I’m no expert, but perhaps it’s time we started talking about why.
What do you think of the rescue?