Rescuers drill new wells as they run to reach 22 miners trapped underground for 11 days after a gold mine exploded.
Rescuers in China drilled new wells Thursday to reach miners trapped underground for 11 days following an explosion, including one they hope to use to bring survivors back to safety.
A total of 22 workers were trapped underground in the Jan. 10 explosion at the Hushan gold mine on the outskirts of Yantai, a key gold-producing region of Shandong on the northeast coast. One worker has been confirmed dead, the fate of several others still uncertain.
For days, rescuers came into contact with 11 miners trapped in the middle part of the mine, about 350 meters (1,148 feet) underground, and managed to send them food and medical supplies.
State media, however, reported on Wednesday that at least one of them – previously reported to be in serious condition with a head injury – had died.
Of the 10 minors who are alive, eight are in stable condition, while two feel “weak,” CCTV said.
The whereabouts and condition of their colleagues are still unknown.
The local government said on its official social media feed on Thursday that rescuers have started drilling a 10th channel with a diameter of 711mm (28 inches) which they hope will allow survivors to be brought to the surface. .
Licensed local officials
A borehole had to be sealed with cement after a water leak threatened the safety of the miners.
On a foggy Thursday morning, the road to the mine was cordoned off by police, while health workers in protective gear took temperatures as part of COVID-19 precautions.
About 600 people are involved in the rescue, with up to 25 ambulances waiting at the scene, as well as neurosurgeons, trauma specialists and psychologists.
A Reuters team saw fire trucks and cars pass and pass a checkpoint on an approach road.
CCTV footage showed several large cranes, trucks and construction equipment perched on a bare cliff at the scene of the rescue operations on Wednesday.
According to Chen Fei, a senior city official, the progress of the rescue has been slow as they are drilling granite, and mining could be further complicated by the state of the mine.
Nighttime temperatures in Qixia are expected to drop below zero over the next week.
Several waterproof emergency phones were sent to the trapped miners after writing a second note Tuesday morning saying the previous phones had been damaged, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Rescue teams initially lost precious time as it took more than a day for the accident to be reported, the China Youth Daily reported, citing provincial authorities.
The local Communist Party secretary and the mayor were sacked after a 30-hour delay, and an official investigation is underway to determine the cause of the explosion.
Trending hashtag “Shandong trapped miners sent another note” received more than 170 million views on Chinese Twitter-like social network Weibo on Wednesday morning as China began to take note of the extraordinary effort safety.
Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often poorly enforced.
In December, 23 workers died after being stranded underground in the southwestern city of Chongqing.