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11 miners rescued two weeks after gold mine explosion, 10 others found dead

25 January 2021

Rescuers lifted 11 miners to safety on January 24 after a gold mine explosion trapped 22 people in east China's Shandong province on January 10. After finding the 11 men, rescuers gained access to another part of the mine on January 25 but found the bodies of nine miners, taking the death toll up to 10. One miner remains unaccounted for.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The blast, which happened at the Hushan gold mine operated by Shandong Wucailong Investment in Xicheng Township of Qixia City, left 22 workers trapped around 2,000 feet (600 metres) underground. Recued workers managed to make contact with 11 miners on January 17 by drilling boreholes into the mine. By communicating with the miners, rescuers discovered that four of the men were injured and that one other miner was trapped in a nearby tunnel while 11 others were unaccounted for.

One of the injured miners had suffered severe head injuries in the blast and fell into a coma. Despite rescuers sending medicine and instructing the other miners on how to care for the man, he died on January 20.

Rescuers said on January 21 that several tonnes of rubble were blocking access to the trapped miners and that the rescue would take at least another 15 days, however rescue work progressed much quicker than expected after an alternate way through the rubble was discovered.

After two weeks of being trapped underground, the first of 11 miners was lifted to safety at 11:13 local time on January 25, state news agency Xinhua reports. Throughout the day, 10 more miners and the body of the dead miner were also brought to the surface. Many of the miners were in a weak condition and were carried out of the mine while some were strong enough to walk unaided. Several miners were taken to hospital while wearing blindfolds to protect their eyes having been trapped in darkness for so long.

A day later, on January 25, rescuers gained access to another part of the mine where they found the bodies of nine more miners. One more miner remains missing. At a news conference, the Mayor of Yantai City said that search efforts would continue until the final miner was found.

An investigation into the explosion is continuing while the cause of the blast remains unknown. Authorities have said that two explosions, about an hour and a half apart, resulted in around 70 tonnes of rubble blocking several shafts and disabling elevators.

Several managers of the mine have already been detained after it was discovered that they delayed the reporting of the explosions. At first, several news sites reported rescue efforts were delayed due to damage caused to communication equipment at the mine.

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