Trapped miners send note to rescuers seven days after explosion
In a development reminiscent of the rescue of 33 miners in Chile in Oct. 2010 (ME, Oct. 2010) rescuers in China say they received a note from trapped miners seven days after an explosion in a gold mine left more than 20 miners trapped.
The BBC reported that rescuers believe that 12 miners are still alive in the mine. State media reported that the workers managed to send a note saying “don’t stop trying to reach us” to rescuers seven days after the accident.
The fate of another 10 miners missing after the explosion remains unclear.
The 22 were trapped at the Hushan Mine near Yantai in Shandong province in eastern China on Jan. 10 after an explosion damaged the exit and the communications system of the mine, which was still under construction.
According to state media, rescuers managed to make contact with some of the miners through a narrow shaft.
They felt pulling on ropes they lowered into the mine and later sent food, medicine, paper and pencils into the hole.
According to the note they retrieved back from the shaft, 12 people are alive in the middle section of the mine, while the status of the other 10 is not clear.
The 12 miners reportedly also asked for more medicine, including pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as medical tape for the injured.
They also said there were high levels of underground water.
Chinese media report there are also several other rescue shafts being drilled in the hope the workers - thought to be about 600 m (2,000ft) from the entrance - can be evacuated.
Initially, it took more than a day for the accident to be reported, meaning rescue teams lost precious time to start their attempt to reach the miners.
Both the local Communist Party secretary and mayor have been fired because of this 30-hour delay.
Mining accidents in China are often linked to poorly-enforced safety regulations.
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 when a conveyor belt caught fire, producing high levels of carbon monoxide.
In December 2019, an explosion at a coal mine in Guizhou province, south-west China, killed at least 14 people.
A photo of the note from trapped miners that said 12 are still alive. The fate of 10 others is unknown. Photo from the Xinhua news agency.