A video showing nine Congolese miners unexpectedly climbing out of a collapsed gold mine and falling down a steep slope as onlookers whooped with joy has gone viral in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a rare happy ending to an all-too-common story.
Mining accidents are rife in the giant Central African country, especially at small artisanal sites like the one in South Kivu province that collapsed last Saturday after heavy rains.
The video shows a man perched precariously on the side of a steep rubble slope, frantically digging with a shovel as a group of other men stand in a large circle around him, watching.
Suddenly, a miner emerges from the rubble and slides down the slope, while onlookers erupt in cheers of surprise and delight.
The rescuer is then seen redoubling his efforts, abandoning the shovel to dig through the rubble with his bare hands. Soon another miner appears, then another, and in two minutes a total of nine men have made it out alive and well. Reuters has verified the video, which has been widely shared on social media.
Lack of proper safety procedures and equipment are the cause of frequent tunnel collapses in Congolese mines, in which miners are trapped underground with little chance of survival.
Two miners were killed in a similar incident at a nearby excavation site in early March.
Against that backdrop, hopes were dim when rescue efforts began after Saturday's incident.
"We quickly mobilized people to clear the rubble that was blocking the entrance. It was this Saturday morning ... that they managed to save these nine souls," local civil society representative Crispin Kayuka told Reuters by telephone.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project