Rescuers not only brought 115 survivors out of the flooded Wangjialing Coal Mine in Shanxi, but also many touching stories of mutual help and encouragement as the miners battled to survive. Older, more experienced miners played an important role in encouraging their younger workmates and teaching them survival skills. 'All the seniors squeezed me and put me in the centre to prevent me from getting chilly because it was very cold underground,' Zhao Xinquan , 23, the youngest of the first nine miners to be rescued, told the Guangzhou Daily. Support and mutual encouragement were the keys to their miraculous survival. The Chutian Golden Newspaper said many miners had kept warm by hugging each other. 'When some younger miners broke down and cried, feeling helpless after being trapped for several days, a senior miner told us a story about how three Guizhou workers struggle to survive for 25 days underground,' the newspaper quoted one of the 115 survivors as saying. 'We eventually realised it was just a story, but it really encouraged us and made us believe that we would be rescued one day.' That encouragement helped some younger miners keep their spirits up in the dark, the newspaper said, while senior miners found comfort in memories of wives and children at home. Rescue team captain Song Jinchen , the first man to discover survivors, said the leaders of mining teams played important roles during the eight days and nights they were trapped underground. 'They all had the same dark faces when we discovered them, so we couldn't tell who was who,' Song said. 'But when we started to send them out, we knew who the leaders were.' The leaders had also helped rescuers to maintain order underground, he said. 'It was the leaders who decided who would get out first and then one by one,' Song said. 'They insisted on being the last to be sent out after making sure their team members were safe.' Lacking clean water and food, the trapped miners resorted to eating coal, pine bark from mine supports and the packing paper from explosives, and drinking their own urine. Song said some miners were delusional after having been trapped for almost 180 hours. 'When I told a miner with a Jiangxi accent that 'you finally can go home with me now', he slapped his face again and again to prove to himself it wasn't a dream,' Song said. In order to save energy, workers gathered all their head lamps together, and took turns to turn one or two on to let rescuers know where they were. Some lamps still had enough power to last a few more days. 'Do you know, I was not scared to see the light because I was the one who was in charge of the lamps underground,' one survivor told medical staff at the Shanxi Aluminium Workers' Hospital when he asked them to take the covers from his eyes. One miner told nurses he had strapped himself to a shaft wall with his belt to avoid being swept away by the flood of water, the Beijing Times reported. Medical staff said some survivors had still not been allowed to talk to their families directly even though they were conscious because they wanted to prevent them from getting over-excited. 'The patients shouldn't have big mood swings as it could initiate some critical syndromes and harm their recovery,' the Guangzhou Daily quoted a nurse at the Shanxi Aluminium Workers' Hospital as saying.