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January 25, 2021

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11 miners saved, eyes on 10 others

RESCSCUERSRS in east China’s Shandong Province yesterday pulled out 11 miners, who were trapped hundreds of meters underground for two weeks following a blast, even as the race to locate the remaining 10 intensified.

The miners were brought to the surface starting from around 11am yesterday, China Central Television reported — a major breakthrough for a rescue operation that has captivated the nation.

Television footage showed the first miner as he was brought to the surface in the morning, a black blindfold shielding his eyes from daylight as he was lifted out of a shaft.

The miner was extremely weak, CCTV reported. Rescue workers wrapped the barely responsive man in a blanket and took him to hospital by ambulance.

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

The 11 miners were rescued after the air ventilator shaft was cleared, according to the operation’s command center.

A further ten remain unaccounted for. Currently, 633 people and 407 pieces of equipment are at the site for rescue operations.

Specialist teams have been battling difficult conditions since an explosion at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, under Yantai City, trapped 22 miners underground on January 10. The blast occurred in a ventilator shaft, causing a blockage of 70 tons that damaged the cable car.

“We made a breakthrough this morning,” chief engineer at the rescue center, Xiao Wenru, said.

“After clearing these broken, powdery pieces, we found that there were cavities underneath ... our progress accelerated.”

Rescue expert Du Bingjian said some huge obstacles had fallen to the bottom of the shaft, allowing them to take a big step forward.

Officials had said on Thursday it could take two more weeks to drill a rescue shaft through blockages.

One of the men brought to the surface yesterday was injured but several were shown walking, supported by rescue workers and wearing black cloth over their eyes, before being taken away by ambulance. Some brought their hands together in gratitude.

They were in good physical condition and had been getting normal food since Saturday, after several days of living off nutrient solutions, Xinhua reported.

Contact was first established a week ago with a group of 11 miners trapped in a section of the mine around 580 meters below the surface.

One of them was seriously injured in the initial explosion and died after falling into a coma.

Another miner was found alive by rescuers as they attempted to reach the group.

Rescue teams have been lowering food, medicine and other supplies to the group through several lifeline shafts drilled into the rock.

Life detectors and nutrient solutions have been lowered to other parts of the mine in the hope of reaching those still missing.

Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident. The cause of the accident is under investigation.


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