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Hard Hat Created Breathing Pocket That Saved Buried Builder

Hard Hat Created Breathing Pocket That Saved Buried Builder

A woman buried by tons of sand on a construction site in China was saved because her hard hat created an air pocket that allowed her to breathe.

The accident happened in the county of Jinjiang in southeast China’s Fujian province when Mingmei Xiong, 34, fell into the sandpit nearly 80 feet deep on the construction site, and had a wall of sand fall on top of her.

But thanks to the fact that she had a hard hat on, she was able to survive as it created a pocket of air that allowed her to breathe in the crucial 30 minutes it took for colleagues and firemen to reach her.

Rescuer Shaiming Liang, 43, said: "We reached her head but the big problem was that the soft, shifting sand would cover her as fast as we could dig it out.

"It was like the sand did not want to let her go."

When the firemen turned up Xiong had already been trapped in the pit for 30 minutes.

One fireman was fastened by a rope to go into the pit upside down to remove the sand around Xiong’s head while others with shovels kept moving away the sand around the pit.

Fire brigade spokesman Chung Pan, 45, said: "It had to be done with extreme care. The sand was fine and wanted to move in one direction only - down on to the head of the trapped victim. It was very tense, a real race against time before there was another major collapse."

While the digger and the fireman on the rope kept her nose and mouth free, other firemen dug a rescue tunnel ten feet long beside the woman to allow her to be pulled free.

"She popped out like a cork from a bottle," said Meng Huang, 31, a co-worker. "We were so happy. We thought she was a goner."

Xiong was conscious if somewhat shell-shocked after her release, and was taken to hospital where she spent a night under observation before being allowed to go home.

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