BEIJING – Rescue workers evacuated 11 workers to safety on Sunday two weeks after they were trapped in an under-construction goldmine in east China, according to official media reports.
State-run Global Times said the 11 trapped miners were brought up from two separate sections of the mine after rescuers had established contact with them.
Xinhua reported that the first rescued miner was lifted to safety in the morning. The worker was rushed to a hospital in extremely weak condition.
A total of 22 miners got trapped about 600 meters underground on Jan. 10 after a blast in Qixia’s Yantai city in coastal eastern Shandong province.
One of the trapped miners was presumed dead as he did not show vital signs days after he felt unconscious from injuries to his head.
Ten are still missing.
Currently, there 633 people and more than 400 equipment at the site for rescue operations.
The rescue work had faced difficulties earlier, but on Sunday morning, an obstacle blocking the well suddenly fell to the bottom of the shaft, chief on-site rescue expert Du Bingjian told the Global Times.
“After the obstacles fell to the bottom of the shaft, the rescue team started to bring up the miners and suspended the drilling work, so it is currently unclear when the rescuers will reach the Sixth Central Section where the missing miners are believed to be,” Du said.
Authorities had said it could take more than two weeks to lift the miners as rescuers were drilling into a heavily blocked shaft to extract the survivors.
The drilling of the shaft with a 711-millimeter diameter bit began on Wednesday.
The rescue work turned out to be challenging because it took around 30 hours for the accident to be reported to the authorities.
Authorities have initiated a probe that has led to arrests and dismissal of the two highest political leaders in the area.
Chinese mining operations, especially coal, the main source of energy in the country, register a high accident rate, although, in recent years, the number of fatal accidents has dropped significantly.