China mine rescue: First survivor brought to surface, say state media




  • In Business
  • 2021-01-24 05:58:24Z
  • By BBC
Hushan gold mine, Shandong province, China
Hushan gold mine, Shandong province, China  

Rescuers in China have freed the first of a group of miners who have been trapped 600m underground for two weeks, state media report.

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

Eleven miners initially 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.

The miner brought to the surface was "extremely weak", said a post on CCTV's Weibo microblog site. He was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light and was immediately taken to hospital for treatment.

This man 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.

The tunnel being bored out to reach them is expected to take weeks to dig.

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.

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
Graphic of mine rescue  

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.

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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.

Rescuers have opened a communication channel with the trapped miners via a thin tunnel
Rescuers have opened a communication channel with the trapped miners via a thin tunnel  

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 are the miners doing?

The group of 10 known survivors are 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.

Eight of them are thought to be doing well, while two are in poor health.

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