China mine rescue: Nine miners brought to surface, say state media

First miner being brought to surface by rescue workers

CCTV

Rescuers in China have freed nine miners who have been trapped 600m underground for two weeks, state media report.

They have been stuck since an explosion closed the entrance tunnel to the Hushan gold mine in Shandong province on 10 January.

Eleven miners were initially known to have survived the collapse, but one later died.

A telephone connection has been set up and medicine and food have been lowered via a long, narrow tunnel.

The cause of the explosion that sealed the mine entrance is still not known.

TV footage showed the first miner brought to the surface, as emergency workers cheered. He was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light and was immediately taken to hospital for treatment.

The miner brought to the surface was “extremely weak”, said a post on CCTV’s Weibo microblog site.

Miracle of life: A Chinese miner has been rescued two weeks after being trapped hundreds of meters underground in Shandong Province. #GLOBALink pic.twitter.com/NXmX7oooJd

— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) January 24, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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About an hour after his rescue, eight more miners were brought out from a different section of the mine. CCTV said one of the miners among this group was injured.

Two others are still believed to be alive inside the mine, awaiting rescue.

The fate of a second group of 11 miners trapped by the blast is unclear – authorities have been unable to communicate with them despite lowering food and messages into other areas of the mine.

This first man to be rescued had been trapped in a different part of the gold mine to the main group of 10 who have been receiving food and medicine for days.

Rescue efforts have been sped up significantly, as a tunnel that was being bored out to reach them was expected to take weeks to dig.

The group discovered alive told rescuers they had established communication with a lone miner about 100m below them, but had since lost touch with him.

Graphic of mine rescue

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How did they get trapped?

The entry into the mine was severely damaged and communication was cut off by unexplained explosion.

For a week, there was no sign of life. Then, last Sunday, rescuers felt a pull on one of the ropes they were lowering into small shafts leading down into the dark.

A paper note was then sent up on a rope from a group of 12 surviving miners – 11 trapped in one place and a 12th trapped further below.

Since then, the contact with the 12th miner has been lost, while one of the group of 11, who had fallen into a coma after sustaining a head wound in the explosion, was on Thursday confirmed dead.

This photo taken on January 13, 2021 shows rescuers working at the site of gold mine explosion where 22 miners were trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province.

Getty Images

Mining accidents are not uncommon in China, where the industry safety regulations can be poorly enforced. In December last year, 23 miners died after a carbon monoxide leak at a coal mine.

In September, 16 workers were killed at another mine on the outskirts of Chongqing, also due to carbon monoxide. In December 2019, an explosion at a coal mine in Guizhou province, south-west China, killed at least 14 people.

How have the miners survived this long?

The survivors have been trapped in the dark some 600m (2,000ft) underground. They are in regular contact with the rescue teams.

A communication line has been established and food and medicine can be lowered to them through a narrow shaft.

While they’ve been receiving porridge and nutritional liquids, the miners a few days ago asked for a traditional meal of sausages.

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