The day started like any other for Wang Jianxin, but it certainly ended extraordinarily. The 52-year-old construction worker was digging a ditch when without warning the wall caved in and burying him alive.
He would have certainly died if not for his hat, the power of positive thinking, and Buddhist meditation techniques:
The rim of his helmet had, by chance, trapped a tiny pocket of air around his face. Mr Wang knew that if he panicked and his breathing accelerated he might use up that little amount of oxygen before rescuers could reach him. He forced himself to be calm.
“I had my back to the wall and didn’t know it was falling until it was on top of me. It was suddenly dark and I realised what had happened and found that there was a small air pocket in front of me,” Mr Wang said. That was when the Buddhist turned to meditation to control his intake of oxygen. “I knew it would not last, so I made myself relax and concentrated on slowing down my breathing by meditation.” Above ground, workers were scrabbling through the earth to try to bring Mr Wang to the surface alive. Construction workers and a uniformed rescue team clawed away the earth with their hands until they found Mr Wang’s helmet.
It took two hours but finally they pulled out Mr Wang alive from the earth that could have been his muddy grave.
Doctors were astounded, saying that a person could normally not live longer than five minutes in a similar sealed space. One local doctor said: “It’s a miracle that he’s alive after being buried for two hours.”