Sole survivor


The coal mine in the Tucheng district of Taiwan has been closed for decades and the area around it is completely abandoned. The gate is locked from inside and layers of chains are scattered over the ground. However, rumor has it that a cold wind continues to blow from the sealed vents of the pit and the babble of running water still comes from the empty dorm. Locals even claim to have witnessed a group of ghostly miners standing silently in front of the pit at midnight. These strange occurrences can all be traced back to a tragedy that happened 32 years ago which killed nearly a hundred people.

On June 20, 1984, a mine shaft at Haishan, the second largest mine in Taiwan, exploded and buried 94 miners alive. It was one of the worst mining accidents to ever happen in Taiwan and in the end there was only one survivor.

His memorial video was later shared on the internet...


“No one knows how the explosion happened. Actually, not all miners were working underground at the moment. Some came down and tried to help after the explosion, but in the end all of them were dead. Some said it’s a ghost haunting, others believe it’s revenge from nature,” the sole survivor Zhou Zonglu remembered. After the accident happened, hundreds of family members waited anxiously outside the mine wondering if the next body to be carried out would be someone they knew and loved.



Even now, the memory is still a nightmare for Zonglu. The tunnel was so dark that even cockroaches couldn't find their way around. Waiting for the rescue, he curled up in the vent and wore a mask soaked with his own urine to prevent the fatal carbon monoxide from entering his lungs. If it hadn't been for this, he never would have survived.



During the time trapped underground, he could only drink his own urine and lick the drops of moisture on the surrounding rocks to quench his thirst. But soon the hunger became an unbearable torture. After two days of starving, Jonglu was forced to do something that would haunt him for the rest of his life: he began cutting the flesh off his dead co-worker and eating it.



After struggling in the over 100°F hell filled with dangerous gas for 96 hours, Zonglu was finally rescued. However, the guilt and horror of eating his colleague lingered in his memory and plagued his dreams. In the dreams, his coworker shouted, “You ate me! You owe me your life!” And once the story of how Jonglu survived reached the public, the backlash was fierce. The excessive attention and controversy became a heavy burden for Zonglu and he found himself waking up in a cold sweat almost every night. He kept asking himself, “Did I really do something wrong?” He had been trapped in a prison of guilt for 10 years when the family of his dead colleague openly showed their understanding and publicly forgave him.

In his later years, Zonglu became very religious and studied in a seminary. He became an active priest and preached throughout Taiwan. This June, Zonglu passed away peacefully at age 86 surrounded by his loving family.

“If you could turn back the clock, would you eat your colleague again?," a reporter once asked Zonglu in an interview. His answer was simple: "I survived, which somehow means the other 93 lives are prolonged." As the only survivor and eyewitness to such a tragic mining accident, Zonglu's life was no doubt tortuous and painful, but at the same time full of strength and perseverance.