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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
China miners 'survived on urine'
Meng Xianchen (L) and Meng Xianyou (R) pictured in hospital robes
The Meng brothers took five days to dig themselves out of the pit
Two miners who escaped from a collapsed pit in Beijing ate coal and drank urine to survive, Chinese media has reported.

Brothers Meng Xianchen and Meng Xianyou told the Beijing News they became so hungry it was impossible even to crawl.

Xianchen said he found coal "quite fragrant" at first, but later it became "bitter and unsmooth".

He described how they filled two water bottles with urine, saying: "You can only take small sips, and when you've finished, you just want to cry."

Rescue efforts were halted after two days, with officials and the families of both men believing they were dead.

But the pair managed to dig their way out of the pit using just their hands, after spending more than five days under ground.

"At the end, we were so hungry we ate coal and thought it tasted delicious," Meng Xianchen said.

'Total breakdown'

The brothers said they had been hopeful of being rescued until the sound of digging outside stopped.

Then they "totally had a breakdown" and eventually began to use humour to help them get through the ordeal.

We could only feel with our fingers and listen
Meng brothers

"I told my brother 'your wife is going to have to marry someone else'", Meng Xianyou told the newspaper.

His brother replied: "I laughed too. I said my wife could find a rich man in Shenyang.

"But then I thought, I have two children and my wife is ugly, so it would be hard for her to remarry."

The men were working at an illegal mine on the outskirts of Beijing when they were trapped by a rock fall on 18 August.

"At the beginning, our mobile phone still had power so there was a little bit of light.

"Two days later, the battery ran out so we could only feel with our fingers and listen."

Doctors said that the brothers had suffered kidney damage due to lack of water, but had no other injuries.

China's mines are the world's most dangerous, with about 5,000 deaths reported every year.

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20 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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19 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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