Trapped for 2 weeks, 11 workers rescued from China gold mine

Normal diets for trapped China miners as rescue continues

BEIJING: Chinese rescuers pulled 11 gold miners to safety on Sunday (Jan 24), 14 days after they were trapped by an underground explosion, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Footage showed the first miner to be rescued, a black blindfold across his eyes, being lifted out of a mine shaft in the morning.

State broadcaster CCTV showed workers being hauled up one-by-one in baskets on Sunday afternoon, their eyes shielded to protect them after so many days in darkness.

Some brought their hands together in gratitude and many appeared almost too weak to stand. They were swiftly covered in coats amid freezing temperatures and loaded into ambulances.

Rescuers are seen at the site where workers were trapped underground after an explosion at the gold mine under construction, in Qixia, Shandong province, China, Jan 13, 2021. (Photo: cnsphoto via REUTERS)

Hundreds of rescue workers and officials stood at attention and applauded as the workers were brought up from the mine in Qixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

One worker was reported to have died from a head wound following the explosion that deposited massive amounts of rubble in the shaft on Jan. 10 while the mine was still under construction.

The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time is unknown. Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident.

The miner was extremely weak, CCTV said on its Weibo site. Rescue workers wrapped the barely responsive man in a blanket before taking him to hospital by ambulance.

Over the next few hours, 10 miners from a different section of the mine, who had been receiving food and supplies from rescue workers last week, were brought out in batches.

The cause of the accident is under investigation but the explosion was large enough to release 70 tons of debris that blocked the shaft, disabling elevators and trapping workers underground.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers carry a miner who was trapped in a gold mine in Qixia City in east China’s Shandong Province, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Rescuers in China on Sunday lifted several trapped miners to the surface who were trapped for two weeks after an explosion in a northern gold mine, state media reported. (Luan Qincheng/Xinhua via AP)

Rescuers drilled parallel shafts to send down food and nutrients and eventually bring up the survivors, 10 of whom had been in a lower chamber and one in a separate area slightly closer to the surface.

The official China Daily newspaper said on its website that seven of the workers were able to walk to ambulances on their own.

Such protracted and expensive rescue efforts are relatively new in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. Increased supervision has improved safety, although demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting. A new crackdown was ordered after two accidents in mountainous southwestern Chongqing last year killed 39 miners.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers carry a miner who was trapped in a gold mine in Qixia City in east China’s Shandong Province, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Rescuers in China on Sunday lifted several trapped miners to the surface who were trapped for two weeks after an explosion in a northern gold mine, state media reported. (Luan Qincheng/Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers carry a miner who was trapped in a mine to an ambulance in Qixia City in east China’s Shandong Province, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Eleven workers trapped for two weeks by an explosion inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday. (Chen Hao/Xinhua via AP)

Surviving workers had been provided with a nutrient solution, but rescuers are now able to provide regular food and drink, along with clothing and other supplies, Xinhua reported.

The shaft is reportedly blocked 350m below the surface by 70 tons of debris that extends down another 100m. Rescuers estimate another two weeks will be needed to bring the workers to safety while they drill additional shafts for communication, ventilation and, possibly, evacuation.

Exhaustion has set in among some of the workers since the Jan 10 explosion ripped through the mine that was under construction in Qixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in Shandong province.Advertisement

Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the accident, the cause of which has not been announced.

Increased supervision has improved safety in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. Yet, demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting, and two accidents in Chongqing last year killed 39 miners.

AP News

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