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.



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