Dramatic rescue of teen buried in sand moves the Web

The Upshot

He's OK. But for nearly 30 harrowing minutes, 17-year-old Matt Mina thought he would die under five feet of sand.

The teen had been on Newport Beach in Orange County, digging underground tunnels with friends. They were trying to make the tunnels meet when the ground collapsed above him.

A family member saw the sand cave in, and alerted a lifeguard, who called the fire department.

The survivor told the "Today" show, "I didn't know if anyone could hear me when I was screaming for help." Nobody could hear him, but the rescue was already under way. You can watch another video interview with Mina in the clip above.

Paramedics arrived within minutes, and along with dozens of lifeguards and beach goers, furiously began to dig.

Video cameras were also on hand to capture the scene, and the online video footage has quickly gone viral--you can watch it here.

When he was trapped, underground, Mina's hands were pinned behind him. He used his head to create a small pocket of air. He counted each breath and came in and out of consciousness.

He couldn't hear the massive above-ground effort to unearth him. Mina told CBS Los Angeles, "The helplessness you feel when you're underground--it's like, you think you can just pull yourself out, but you can't. It's so heavy."

After about 30 minutes, the paramedics and lifeguards unearthed the tunnel-digging teen. When he showed signs of life, the crowd cheered wildly. Mina was taken to a local hospital and released after observation.