Where The Coal Is Stained With Blood

Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

A coal miner carries a sack of coal back home after his shift at a small mine in China's Shanxi Province on November 29, 2006.

Old Zhao, his fellow miners called him -- a weary-looking man, 54, wearing a yellow safety helmet and a miner's lamp strung around his neck, black coal dust embedded in the lines on his forehead and lightly powdering the insides of his ears. Last May Zhao and a team of other veterans were assigned to search for the bodies of 57 miners killed in Zuoyun County, deep in China's Shanxi province. The dead men had accidentally tunneled into a flooded mine shaft next to their own. "Many of them are very young--just boys," Zhao says, pausing to light a cigarette. "I...