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What we know so far
11 miners have been rescued, 10 were confirmed dead, and search for the last one worker continues
The 22 miners were trapped more than 600 meters underground after explosions ripped through a gold mine that was under construction in Qixia, Shandong province
10:44 2021-01-29
Video: How trapped miners were saved after 14 days
By Ma Chi

Twenty-two miners became trapped more than 600 meters underground after blasts ripped through a gold mine under construction in Qixia, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 10.

After the accident, rescuers rushed to the site in race against time to save the miners. After more than two weeks of relentless rescue work, 11 miners were rescued. However, they were unfortunately unable to save 10 miners, and search for the last one missing worker is still ongoing.

09:06 2021-01-28
Search for last missing miner will continue
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 25, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

It will take some time to search for a remaining worker who has been trapped underground for 17 days after explosions at a gold mine under construction in Qixia, Shandong province, due to difficulties draining water and clearing obstacles, the rescue headquarters said.

Rescuers and divers searched several times in the space above the No 6 section, which is more than 600 meters from the shaft entrance, but failed to find the worker, the rescue headquarters said on Tuesday night.

Around 1.6 meters of water has accumulated above the floor of No 6 section, it said, adding that rescuers won't stop searching until they find the worker.

The accident trapped 22 workers underground. Eleven workers were lifted to safety on Sunday, 10 workers died and one remains missing.

"We never stopped believing that we would be saved," a worker surnamed Zhang, 63, said at the hospital on Tuesday.

He organized trapped workers to stay in safe places and adopt measures to save themselves.

After a hole was drilled to the section where Zhang and 10 other workers stayed, rescuers sent down food, flashlight, paper and pencils. Zhang wrote a note telling rescuers about their conditions.

Zhang ended the note with "We hope the rescue work continues, and we remain hopeful."

"We then got a response from the rescuers," Zhang said. "They told us they wouldn't stop the rescue and the best rescuers and best equipment were working on saving us around the clock."

The State Council's Office of the Work Safety Commission summoned Shandong province officials to talk about the accident on Wednesday.

The accident occurred around 2 pm on Jan 10. But it was not until 8 pm the next day-30 hours later-that it was reported to the local emergency management authority.

The mine delayed reporting and hid the truth about the accident after it took place, which seriously affected rescue prospects, the meeting heard.

The province was urged to learn from the accident and carry out thorough production safety inspections to prevent such accidents from happening again.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has sent a team to Shandong to oversee the investigation into the accident. Any people responsible for the delay in reporting must be held accountable, it said.

09:04 2021-01-27
Surprise breakthrough saves trapped miners
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
A miner is rescued on Sunday, 14 days after two explosions rocked the gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

On Sunday morning, rescue workers unexpectedly reached a large cavity 14 days after two explosions trapped 22 workers underground at a gold mine under construction in Qixia, Shandong province.

The breakthrough proved crucial in efforts that saved 11 of the stricken miners.

The cavity was reached after two weeks of continuous attempts to clear debris from the main shaft at the mine-a major route to lift the miners to the surface.

Accessing the cavity accelerated work to save the men, who were trapped more than 600 meters underground after the explosions on Jan 10.

Xiao Wenru, chief engineer at the Ministry of Emergency Management's mine rescue center, said on Sunday, "We had predicted that it could take at least another 15 days to clear heavy obstacles from the shaft."

Around 11 am on Sunday, rescuers and ambulances stood by at the entrance to the shaft. All eyes were on cables hauling a container bucket up from a depth of more than 500 meters.

Finally, the bucket reached the surface, carrying two rescuers and one of the trapped workers. The miner, who was extremely weak, was carried to an ambulance and taken to the hospital.

Feng Anji, one of the rescuers who went down the shaft, said: "We found the miner lying curled up. He could talk, but was too weak to move."

Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday that the worker used his cap for 14 days to scoop up underground water.

Another 10 workers were lifted to safety within two hours of the first being found, all of them blindfolded to avoid bright sunlight.

One of these workers was injured and had to be carried to an ambulance. The remaining nine walked to ambulances with assistance.

Rescuers continued to search for the other trapped workers, before finding nine bodies. They are still trying to locate the remaining employee.

The rescuers searched an area above the mine's No 6 section, which is 698 meters from the entrance.

Chen Fei, the mayor of Yantai, which administers Qixia, said at a news conference on Monday that rescuers working below this section faced huge difficulties because of the large amount of water in that area of the mine.

"We won't stop searching until we find him," Chen said.

At the news conference, officials stood in silent tribute to those who died in the blasts.

As of Tuesday, 10 workers were confirmed to have died, 11 were alive and the fate of the other remained unknown.

Chen Yumin, leader of the rescue team, said an inspection of the area where the nine bodies were found showed the workers died in a second explosion while trying to climb to safety after the first.

The initial blast, which occurred around 1:15 pm on Jan 10 at a depth of 240 meters, caused a strong tremor and shattered the windows of a room at the mine entrance.

Thick smoke billowed from the mine, where 13 of the employees were working in one section at a depth of 698 meters from the shaft entrance, and nine at a depth of 648 meters.

The second explosion occurred around 2:45 pm, Chen Yumin said.

The blasts damaged the mine's communications system, meaning rescuers were initially unable to tell whether the miners were still alive.

The rescue headquarters said everything was being done to save the trapped workers.

Rescue forces, including teams from Beijing and the provinces of Henan and Anhui, gathered at the mine.

By Tuesday more than 600 rescue workers and related personnel from 17 teams, along with firefighters, were at the site, according to the headquarters.

One of the workers is brought to safety. CHEN HAO/XINHUA

Two-pronged operation

To save the miners as quickly as possible, the headquarters conducted a two-pronged operation-clearing the shaft and drilling holes to search for signs of life, provide ventilation and deliver supplies.

Experts said unexpected difficulties were encountered in both operations.

For two weeks, rescuers found it extremely hard to clear the shaft, which was badly damaged and blocked by debris, including cables and steel wires.

Li Lei, from the China National Coal Group, which was responsible for clearing the shaft, said, "More than 70 percent of the debris comprised steel objects."

Ma Zhimin, deputy leader of the team clearing the shaft, said that after the workers encountered a severe blockage 340 meters down, it took them three days to clear debris 7 meters deep.

On Jan 19, the team found a similar blockage at a depth of 350 meters, Ma added.

To speed work to remove the debris, workers customized some equipment used to clear the shaft.

"As a result, the number of workers clearing debris blocking the shaft rose to seven to nine people at any one time, up from just two," Ma said.

However, experts estimated that some 1,300 cubic meters of debris weighing about 70 metric tons was still blocking the shaft at a depth of 350 meters to 450 meters. On Thursday, they predicted it could take at least another 15 days to clear the shaft.

Then, on Sunday, rescuers clearing the shaft reached the cavity.

After being brought to the surface through the cleared shaft, one worker still clutching an illuminated flashlight placed his hands together in a gesture of thanks to the rescuers.

Another of the rescued workers said, "I want my family to know that I am alive."

Qin Chengyong, leader of the medical rescue and treatment team, said on Monday, "The 11 workers are in stable physical and psychological condition and their lives are not at risk."

The workers were undergoing treatment recommended by experts working in the fields of critical care, psychology and nutrition, Qin said.

During the rescue operation, workers drilled 10 holes to search for the miners and to bring them to the surface in the event of the shaft not being sufficiently cleared of debris.

Two of the holes had to be abandoned-one due to a deviation in the drilling work that could not be corrected, and the other because the drill became stuck after hitting crushed rock.

Du Bingjian, a chief engineer at the National Mine Emergency Rescue Center, said, "Mines of this nature have strata composed of igneous rocks, which are the hardest type."

Drilling can easily deviate in such conditions, Du added.

Eleven miners were located on Jan 17 through a hole about 22 centimeters in diameter drilled to a depth of nearly 600 meters in a section of the mine where workers were reportedly trapped.

Next day, a hole 31.1 centimeters in diameter drilled to a depth of 629 meters also reached this section. According to the rescue headquarters, this was the deepest hole workers had drilled in recent years. However, rescuers were unable to locate any of the other miners.

Life underground

Chen Fei, the mayor, said, "When the hole reached them, the miners and the rescuers were overjoyed."

A cable placed down the hole became a lifeline for the trapped workers, as rescuers used it to send them communication devices, along with enough food and other supplies to last for a week.

Song Xicheng, deputy director of the medical rescue team, said on Jan 19 that after receiving four batches of life-sustaining nutrient solutions delivered down the hole, 10 of the trapped workers had regained their strength.

"I gained the impression that one experienced worker had urged his colleagues to remain hopeful, despite the difficulties they were in," Song said.

After sending food to the miners, rescuers found two handwritten notes attached to the cable when they pulled it up.

The first said the trapped workers were exhausted and in urgent need of stomach medicine, painkillers, bandages and anti-inflammatory drugs. It also said there was smoke and a lot of water in the area they were in.

Acting on this information, rescuers drilled two more holes to drain underground water to keep the workers safe.

On the recommendation of rescue headquarters, the 10 miners moved to a safer area near one of the newly drilled holes before being lifted to the surface.

The second note read, "Please send down another telephone to us as backup."

When they spoke to rescuers by phone, the miners asked for pickles, ham and porridge made from millet.

In addition to nutrient solutions, rescuers sent porridge, thermometers, tissues, notepaper, blankets and shoes down to the miners.

Each container of food was lowered with a note attached, which read: "We are waiting for all of you. Stay cheerful."

Volunteers act

Local volunteers also offered their help from the start of the rescue operation.

Wang Haiqing, from Laiyang, a city neighboring Yantai, who drove a crane to the scene, said: "I wish I could have hugged all the trapped workers after they were lifted to the surface. I miss home after being here for just two days, as must those who have been underground for so long."

Du Jiancai sent 22 packs of millet to the rescue site after hearing that the miners wanted porridge.

A local resident, who did not give her name, sent hot dumplings to the rescuers.

"It's not easy working in chilly temperatures at the site for many days. I just wanted to do something for them," she said.

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09:03 2021-01-27
Pair brought to surface voice heartfelt thanks

Two workers trapped in the gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, have told of their experiences.

One of them said he had never stopped believing they would be saved.

"When the first explosion occurred, I was in the mine's No 6 section. As there was a lot of water in the area, I used a ladder in the shaft to climb to No 5 section.

"However, after the second explosion, No 5 section was filled with thick smoke, making it impossible to see further than about 3 meters. It was extremely chaotic.

"The area we were in is more than 500 meters from the shaft entrance. Although the water was not suitable for drinking, we used bottles and cups to get some. We didn't have any food."

The worker said he and his colleagues banged on the shaft every day to tell rescuers they were alive.

"Two or three days before a hole was drilled through to us, we heard the sounds of drilling. The sounds became extremely clear the day before the hole reached us.

"All of us stood up on hearing the sounds. It was like being reborn in an extremely hopeless situation."

The miner said that during the two weeks they were trapped, some of his colleagues became pessimistic, while others remained hopeful.

"We encouraged each other and believed the Party and the government would send rescuers to us," he said, adding that a plenty of food and water was sent down the hole to those trapped.

"I am now in good condition and I have a healthy appetite," he added.

"My thanks go to the Party, to the rescue headquarters and to all those who saved us."

The second worker said that as he was in the best physical condition among the group, he used a tool to bang heavily on the drilling rig when the hole reached the miners.

"I banged five times to indicate we were in No 5 section. Then I banged nine times, meaning nine of us were there," he said, adding that his helmet had been cracked by the explosions.

"While I was trapped, I worried the most about my family, because they didn't know whether I was alive."

The worker said that to mark Laba Festival, which fell on Jan 20 this year and is also known as the Rice Porridge Festival, the workers were sent Laba porridge, which is made from rice, beans, nuts, bean curd and meat.

"As a result, we knew it was the Laba Festival. The rescuers were so considerate," he said.

People's Daily - China Daily

06:59 2021-01-26
Ten bodies retrieved from Shandong gold mine
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
Officials mourn for the dead in gold mine explosions at a news conference in Yantai, Shandong province, on Monday. Ten people were confirmed dead two weeks after the accident trapped 22.Eleven were saved, with one still missing. WANG KAI/XINHUA

Ten workers trapped underground after an explosion on Jan 10 at a gold mine under construction in Qixia, Shandong province, have been confirmed to have died, a news conference in the city was told on Monday.

Ten bodies have been found and lifted out since Sunday, including the body of one worker who was confirmed dead on Wednesday, after rescuers cleared a way through debris blocking the shaft.

Police are conducting DNA tests on the bodies to verify their identities, Chen Fei, mayor of Yantai, which administers Qixia, said at the news conference.

Eleven workers were lifted to safety on Sunday. They are now undergoing treatment recommended by experts from areas including critical care, psychology, nutrition and cardiovascular health, said Qin Chengyong, leader of the medical rescue and treatment team.

"The 11 workers are in stable physical and psychological condition with no life-threatening risks," Qin said.

Rescuers are still searching for the last remaining worker. They have searched the space above the No 6 section, which is 698 meters from the mine entrance.

Search work below the No 6 section faces huge difficulties because there is a huge amount of water there, Chen said.

"We won't stop searching until we find the last worker," he said.

The location where nine of the deceased workers were found showed they died in a second explosion while trying to climb to a safe place after the first explosion, said Chen Yumin, team leader of the rescue team.

The first explosion, which occurred at around 1:15 pm on Jan 10, created a strong tremor and shattered the windows of a room at the entrance to the mine. Thick smoke flowed out of the mine following the explosion. The second explosion occurred at around 2:45 pm.

The explosions damaged the communications system, leaving rescuers in the dark initially on whether any of the trapped workers had survived.

06:45 2021-01-25
10 trapped miners in Shandong found dead
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
A miner is rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to an explosion at a gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province. Eleven miners were rescued, and the body of a dead miner also was brought up. The search continued for 10 other miners. CHEN HAO/XINHUA

Latest10 trapped miners in Shandong found dead

Ten workers trapped underground after an explosion took place on Jan 10 at a gold mine under construction in Qixia, Yantai city, Shandong province, were confirmed dead, according to a news conference held in the city on Monday.

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of 10 miners and are still searching for the last remaining worker.

"We will not stop searching for the missing miner," said Chen Fei, mayor of Yantai, adding that the rescue work is extremely difficult as the underground water is very deep.

Eleven workers were lifted to safety on Sunday and are receiving appropriate medical treatment, and DNA tests are being conducted to confirm the identities of the deceased.

The blast occurred at around 1:15 pm on Jan 10, accompanied by thick smoke and strong tremors. At around 2:45 pm, a second explosion was heard in the shaft which caused severe damage to the underground facilities and greater difficulties for clearing work, according to Chen Yumin, who is leading the rescue team.

"The bodies of nine miners were retrieved from about 420 meters to 500 meters underground, indicating they were killed by the second blast as they tried to escape following the first explosion," said Chen. The 10th victim was found at a different location.

A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

11 miners lifted to safety on Sunday

The 11 miners were lifted to the surface after rescuers cleared a way through the main shaft, which had been used by miners to enter and exit the mine.

Once on the surface, nine miners walked to ambulances with help. The other two were carried to ambulances because of their injuries.

"Let my family know that I am alive," one miner said.

Another put his hands together in a gesture of thanks to the rescuers.

"All of the miners lifted to the surface were blindfolded to avoid a shock from the bright sunlight," said Chen Yumin, a rescue team leader.

The first miner was brought to the surface around 11 am. He had been trapped at the No 4 section of the mine, which is 546 meters underground, and was found as rescuers were clearing the shaft. The miner, said to be extremely weak, was rushed to a hospital.

Rescuers found it very difficult during the past two weeks to clear the shaft, which was heavily damaged and blocked by debris including cables and steel wires from the explosion.

"We predicted that it could take at least another 15 days to clear the shaft due to the heavy obstacles thrown together in the shaft," Xiao Wenru, chief engineer of the Ministry of Emergency Management's mine rescue center, said on Sunday.

"But a big cavity appeared after rescuers cleared some obstacles this morning, then clearing work proceeded at high speed," he said.

After bringing out the miner trapped at the No 4 section, rescuers proceeded to the No 5 section and brought out all 10 miners trapped there. The 10 miners were found to be alive a week ago after rescuers drilled a hole to search for them.

On Saturday, more than 600 rescue and related personnel from 17 teams, as well as a fire-rescue squad, were on site.

A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner expresses his gratitude after being lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in East China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner expresses his gratitude after being lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in East China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A trapped miner is lifted from a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 24, 2021. Eleven miners were rescued on Sunday after being trapped underground for two weeks due to a blast in a gold mine in east China's Shandong province. Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since the mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
15:13 2021-01-24
11 trapped miners rescued from Shandong mine
By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan

Eleven miners were lifted to safety by 3:18 pm on Sunday, 14 days after an explosion trapped 22 miners underground at a gold mine at Qixia, East China's Shandong province, according to rescue headquarters.

Seven miners walked to ambulances on their own with the support of rescuers after being lifted to the surface. The other two were carried into ambulances by rescuers due to injuries.

Rescuers are lifting a miner to the surface on Sunday, two weeks after an explosion took place at a gold mine at Qixia, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The first trapped miner was lifted to the surface around 11 am Sunday, 14 days after an explosion trapped 22 miners underground at a gold mine at Qixia, Shandong province, according to CCTV news.

The miner was found at the No 4 section of the mine while rescuers were clearing the debris heaped at the shaft previously used by miners to enter and exit the mine.

The miner was sent to a hospital immediately after being lifted to the surface because he felt weak.

Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground since a mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia, under the city of Yantai, in Shandong province.

So far, rescuers have established contact with only 10 of the miners, who are in good physical and psychological condition. Another is believed to be dead.

Rescue headquarters at the site said that they have sent food, clothes, and other supplies to the 10 miners through a channel.

Rescuers are still racing against the clock to dig into the blocked mine shaft in an effort to set up an escape route for the trapped workers.

Some of the workers have helped the rescuers search for the 11 missing miners using laser pointers and loudspeakers, but have received no response.

Rescuers have continued to lower life detectors and nutrient solutions into other sections of the mine to locate the missing miners, but still have not encountered any signs of life.

20:49 2021-01-21
Rescuers drilling shaft to free trapped miners in East China
Aerial photo taken on Jan 19, 2021 shows rescuers working at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

JINAN -- Rescuers said Thursday that they are drilling a heavily blocked shaft to rescue 21 workers trapped in a gold mine in East China, an effort that will take at least 15 days.

Twenty-two miners have been trapped about 600 meters underground following a mine blast on Jan 10 in Qixia under the city of Yantai, Shandong Province. Rescuers have established contact with 10 miners.

One miner is believed to be dead, rescuers said Wednesday.

11:21 2021-01-21
No signs of life in 1 trapped mine worker
By Zhao Ruixue in Qixia, Shandong
Rescue work continues at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, where 22 miners have been trapped underground since Jan 10. [Photo/Xinhua]

A trapped worker showed no signs of life after losing consciousness in a gold mine blast in Shandong province.

The worker was heavily injured in an explosion at the gold mine which was under construction at Qixia, Shandong province, and showed no signs of life, according to a notice from the rescue headquarters on Wednesday late night.

Rescuers confirmed this after speaking several times to miners trapped at the same section with him.

Based on medical experts' suggestions, treatments were given to the seriously injured worker by workers trapped together.

The explosion took place on Jan 10, trapping 22 workers underground.

Through a hole drilled through on Sunday to the No 5 section, rescuers got in touch with 11 workers trapped at the section.

Eight of the workers are in stable condition and two who initially felt discomfort are still weak.

Rescuers are sending down nutritional supplements and supplies including medicine through the hole to the workers trapped at the No 5 section.

07:06 2021-01-21
Dedicated efforts made to save miners
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Qixia, Shandong
Rescue work continues at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, where 22 miners have been trapped underground since Jan 10. WANG KAI/XINHUA

Rescuers tell of the challenges faced

For a time on Sunday, noisy machinery operating at a gold mine rescue site in Shandong province fell silent.

After drilling a hole to a depth of more than 500 meters, workers paused to listen for any sounds coming from below ground.

The Hushan gold mine in the city of Qixia was rocked by an explosion on Jan 10 that left 22 workers trapped below the surface and damaged a communications system. As a result, rescuers were initially unable to establish whether the miners were still alive.

On Sunday, a rescuer twice banged on a drilling rod lowered down the hole. Team members then listened in vain for any sound being made under the ground.

Two minutes later, the worker banged on the rod twice again, but still there was no response.

Du Bingjian, a chief engineer at the National Mine Emergency Rescue Center, said: "After we tried this several times without hearing anything, I started to become really worried. Had something bad happened to the trapped workers, or were they too weak to respond? They could also have been some distance from the drilling rod or unable to reach it."

He told the rescue worker to bang on the rod five times. This finally produced clear sounds from down below. Rescuers banged on the rod another five times and received the same number of responses.

For further confirmation, workers banged on the rod 27 times in three rounds of nine, receiving a response on each occasion before Du noticed that the sounds coming from below ground were getting weaker.

"We had two experienced doctors listening with stethoscopes to the sounds, but everyone standing around the hole could hear them," said Du, who has worked with emergency teams in mine shafts and helped save more than 300 trapped workers.

Rescue work continues at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, where 22 miners have been trapped underground since Jan 10. WANG KAI/XINHUA

"We were all heartened immediately we heard the sounds," he said.

The hole, which is nearly 22 centimeters in diameter, enables rescuers to speak with the trapped miners via a communications device passed down to them.

Nutritional supplements and other supplies have been sent to the miners, including medicines twice a day on a wire, the rescue headquarters said.

Chen Fei, mayor of Yantai city, which administers Qixia, said, "Not only were the rescuers heartened, but also the trapped miners when the channel reached them."

Song Xicheng, deputy leader of the medical rescue team at the site, said, "After talking to them (the trapped workers who have been located) through the communications device, we learned that they were getting their strength back."

A wire is used to send nutritional supplements and other supplies to the trapped miners. WANG KAI/XINHUA

Drilling operations

The explosion happened at 2 pm on Jan 10, but it was not until 8 pm next day that the incident was reported to the emergency department in Qixia.

To reach the workers as quickly as possible, rescuers cleared debris blocking the shaft used to enter and exit the mine and also drilled new channels from the surface.

Ten points were selected to drill from the surface, including a wide aperture that will be used to return the workers to ground level. Sophisticated machinery is also operating around the clock at the site.

However, the rescuers have encountered a number of difficulties in the drilling work.

Du said, "Mines of this nature have strata composed of igneous rocks, which are the hardest type."

He added that two strata contain water, which is hindering the drilling.

"Drilling can easily deviate from the designated route in such conditions and it takes time to return to the right course," Du said.

His concerns heightened when the drilling work reached within 5 meters of the targeted depth.

"If there had been any deviation from the route, the drilling rod would not have reached the area where some of the workers are trapped. I would have let their family members down," Du said.

He chalked the rod to mark the depth where the workers are trapped.

The rod was then lowered back into the hole slowly, but it suddenly stopped descending, at which point Du knew it had reached the targeted depth.

Rescuers then started banging on the rod to attract the trapped workers' attention.

After getting a response, the rescuers raced to lower pipes down the hole to send supplies to the miners.

Rescue work continues at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, where 22 miners have been trapped underground since Jan 10. WANG KAI/XINHUA

Ray of hope

On Sunday, nutritional supplements were sent to the miners for the first time via a wire. The wire was withdrawn after 35 minutes and rescuers found the supplements had been taken and that the miners had sent up a handwritten note.

The note stated that 12 workers were still alive, including four who were injured, but the fate of the other 10 was unknown.

"We are exhausted and in urgent need of stomach medicine, painkillers, bandages and anti-inflammatory drugs. Three of us also have high blood pressure," the note read.

It also said there was smoke and a lot of water in the area where the workers are trapped.

"We hope the rescue work continues, and we remain hopeful. Thank you," it added.

Two holes are being drilled to drain the underground water.

A rescue worker finishing his shift early on Wednesday said: "We started this work on Tuesday morning. It has gone well, but the rock structure is really complicated and we don't know what difficulties we may encounter when the drilling goes deeper."

He completed his shift at 2 am on Wednesday, before getting some sleep and resuming work seven hours later. "We are drilling in shifts to ensure the trapped workers remain safe and that the water does not pose a threat to them," he said.

Song, the medical team deputy leader, said that by Monday rescuers had spoken to the workers twice via the communications device lowered down the hole.

"We send down food supplies two or three times every day," he said.

Rescuers drill a hole to a depth of more than 500 meters in an attempt to save the workers. WANG KAI/XINHUA

On Tuesday morning, porridge was lowered to the miners. "Nutrients will be adjusted as needed," Song said.

As of Tuesday, eight of the workers were in good condition, two were experiencing slight discomfort and one was unconscious after injuring his head in the explosion. Another miner was injured but could not be reached, according to the rescue headquarters.

The National Health Commission sent a team of experts on Tuesday to help with the medical aid being sent to those underground.

The team comprises five experts from leading hospitals in Beijing working in the fields of intensive care, nutrition, neurosurgery, occupational disease, poisoning cases, and psychological intervention, the commission said.

Medical workers are continuing to communicate with the trapped miners and are keeping records for each of them to ensure they receive proper treatment and care, the rescue headquarters said.

Machinery operates around the clock at the rescue site. ZONG LAISONG/CHINA DAILY

Clearing the shaft

Cables, steel wires and pipes bound together are among the debris that is seriously hampering work to clear the shaft used to enter and exit the mine, according to rescuers.

Ma Zhimin, deputy leader of the team clearing the shaft, said: "We encountered a heavy blockage at a depth of 340 meters. It took us three days to clear debris 7 meters deep."

The team encountered another heavy blockage at the depth of 350 meters on Tuesday, Ma added.

Rescuers have customized some of the equipment used to clear the shaft, which has greatly improved efficiency.

Rescue work continues at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, where 22 miners have been trapped underground since Jan 10. WANG KAI/XINHUA

By Wednesday, 589 rescue workers had been mobilized nationwide to help save the miners, and more than 390 machines were working at the site.

Two senior officials in Qixia have been removed from their posts for the late reporting of the explosion, which delayed rescue work.

An investigation has also been launched to determine the cause of the blast.

Chen, the mayor, said anyone found responsible for the accident would "not be spared".

Liu Jiayi, Party chief of Shandong, and Li Ganjie, the provincial governor, have visited the site several times.

They urged the rescuers to spare no effort and use every minute to save those trapped.

20:29 2021-01-20
Channel being drilled to rescue trapped miners in Shandong
By Zhao Ruixue in Qixia, Shandong

Rescuers started drilling a new channel 71 centimeters in diameter on Wednesday at the Hushan gold mine in East China's Shandong province, where an explosion on Jan 10 trapped 22 workers underground.

The channel will be used to lift out the trapped workers, officials at rescue headquarters said. Meanwhile, rescuers are working around-the-clock to clear the major shaft that was previously used by workers to enter and exit the mine.

A medical rescue team sent down some Laba porridge to trapped workers through a drilled channel on Wednesday for the Laba Festival, a traditional Chinese festival that precedes Chinese Lunar New Year.

Eleven of the miners were found Sunday through a channel drilled through the same day. They talked with rescuers on Monday after a wired telephone was sent down through the channel.

The discussion revealed that 11 miners were stuck in one section of the mine and one person in another, while the whereabouts of the other 10 workers are still unknown.

11:23 2021-01-20
Trapped miners send another note to surface
By Zhao Ruixue in Qixia, Shandong

Rescuers got another handwritten note from trapped miners on Tuesday through a drilled hole 21.9 centimeters in diameter, according to Xinhua News Agency.

"Please send down another telephone to us for backup. Once we lost communication with you, we are not able to find the Party," it reads.

Based on the communication with the trapped workers, rescuers are drilling two additional holes for draining away underground water to keep the workers safe.

Twenty-two workers were trapped underground after an explosion took place on Jan 10 at a gold mine under construction at Qixia, Yantai city in Shandong province.

Rescuers have located 12 trapped workers through a drilled channel.

Video by Zhao Ruixue and Zong Laisong.

09:08 2021-01-20
Two trapped miners feeling sick, one unconscious
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Qixia, Shandong and CANG WEI
Machines work around the clock to drill holes from the surface to the trapped miners, hoping to provide alternative routes to get them out. [Photo by Zhao Ruixue/for China Daily]

A miner who has been trapped underground for more than a week at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, a city in Yantai, Shandong province, hurt his head during a blast last week and has lost consciousness, while two others are feeling sick, medical experts said.

The experts from the National Health Commission arrived at the site on Tuesday afternoon to be part of a team assigned to rescue the miners. They have worked with local doctors to teach the colleagues of the unconscious miner, who was in critical condition, how to give medical help and keep him under close observation.

Most of the 11 men trapped in one chamber of the mine, who had been living on muddy water for days, have regained strength after receiving four batches of life-sustaining nutrient solutions delivered down a drilled hole on Tuesday morning.

A wire has been inserted down a drilled hole to 11 men inside the mine's No 5 chamber. Another survivor is believed to be in an adjoining chamber, while the fate of 10 others remains unknown.

The miners were trapped after a blast on Jan 10. The rescuers were unable to speak with the miners until Monday, when a communication device was passed down the drilled hole to reach them.

The blast, which happened about 240 meters from the mine's entrance, trapped the 22 miners, who were working more than 600 meters from the entrance. The miners in the No 5 chamber said in a handwritten note that it contained a large amount of water and a high concentration of smoke.

Song Xicheng, deputy director of the medical rescue team, said the miners asked for pickles, ham and porridge after a telephone wire reached them.

Besides the nutrient solutions, rescuers also delivered supplies, including porridge, thermometers, tissues, note papers and blankets to the miners. More food will be sent down soon, Song said, adding that the medical team had created a detailed medical record for each miner.

Nutrients will be adjusted following more information about the miners' health conditions and the advice of the medical experts. Psychologists will be assigned to the miners to give them confidence, Song said.

A total of 589 rescuers from 16 professional rescue teams and one fire team, with 388 sets of rescue equipment, are working around the clock in shifts at the site, the emergency rescue headquarters said.

It said experts in many fields, including nutrition, orthopedics and neurosurgery, have gathered at the site to aid future rescue efforts.

"The number of workers cleaning up obstacles that block the shaft has increased from about two people at a time to about seven to nine people," said Ma Zhimin, deputy head of the air shaft obstacle removal team. The efficiency of clearing obstacles had been improved greatly by using bigger and faster equipment, he added.

On Monday, a new hole was drilled and reached a section 698 meters from the mine's entrance, where more miners are believed to be trapped.

The National Mine Safety Administration recently issued a notice urging a thorough safety inspection of non-coal mines to eliminate loopholes and prevent such major accidents from happening again.

06:59 2021-01-19
Rescuers talk with trapped miners
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Qixia, Shandong
Rescuers try to make contact with trapped miners at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 18, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Rescuers were able on Monday to speak for the first time with some of the 22 miners trapped underground since an explosion on Jan 10 at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province.

They were able to make contact after a communication device was passed down to the trapped workers, the rescue headquarters reported at a news conference on Monday.

Chen Fei, mayor of Yantai, which administers Qixia, said at the news conference that 12 of the trapped miners have now been located. Meanwhile, rescuers are aware of a 12th man in an adjacent space but have yet to communicate with him. Ten other miners remain missing, he added.

The workers are weak. Rescuers have sent down nutritional supplements and other supplies, including medical supplies, on a wire threaded down through the shaft, he said.

The trapped workers attached a handwritten note to the wire on Sunday describing a high concentration of smoke and a large amount of water where they are trapped.

The note said that they are exhausted and in urgent need of medical supplies.

"We hope the rescue continues. We remain hopeful, thank you," said the note.

The explosion that trapped 22 miners underground more than 600 meters from the mine entrance occurred at 2 pm on Jan 10 at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia.

Before the food arrived, the trapped miners had been living on muddy water for days, Beijing News quoted a rescuer as saying earlier.

After initial contact was made with the trapped miners on Sunday, a week after the blast, a new hole was drilled early on Monday, reaching a section 698 meters from the mine's entrance. More miners are believed to be trapped there.

Rescuers banged on the drill rod to send a signal, but have not yet received a response, the rescue headquarters said.

Du Bingjian, chief engineer of the National Mine Emergency Rescue Center, said, "This mine has the hardest rock I have ever known, along with two strata that contain water, which hinders the drilling."

Rescuers are drilling a wide shaft through which the trapped miners can be returned to the surface, Du said.

Meanwhile, rescuers are clearing debris that is blocking the shaft previously used by the workers to enter and exit the mine.

More than 530 rescuers and 30 volunteers are working around the clock in shifts at the site. Liu Jiayi, Party secretary of Shandong, visited the site again on Monday to urge rescuers to save the workers with every method that can be used.

An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the blast.

06:56 2021-01-18
Trapped miners send note to rescuers
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
A note written by trapped miners. [Photo/Xinhua]

A new channel has been drilled to rescue the workers trapped by a gold mine blast in East China's Shandong province, authorities said early Monday.

The channel, drilled through at around 5 am, reaches a section 698 meters from the mine entrance. It came after another channel was drilled Sunday at a section 648 meters from the entrance.

Rescuers knocked on the drilling pipe, but have not yet received responses, according to the rescue headquarters.

Hopes rose on Sunday over the fate of 22 miners after a note retrieved from underneath a mine said that 12 workers are still alive while the other 10 are in unknown condition, after a blast a week ago, according to the rescue headquarters on Sunday night.

Nutritional goods and other supplies for possible survivors were lowered via a wire, and rescuers felt a tug on the wire around 10:50 pm. When the rescuers pulled the wire back 35 minutes later, they found that the supplies had been taken and a note was attached, according to the headquarters.

The explosion occurred at 2 pm on Jan 10 at the Hushan gold mine, which was under construction.

Twenty-two miners were working more than 600 meters underground at the time of the blast, which damaged the mine's communications system, leaving rescuers unable to contact the workers.

Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 18, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

A total of 439 people from 14 rescue teams are working round-the-clock at the site, and the rescue headquarters said that more people were joining the teams to help reach the trapped miners.

The shaft has been blocked by debris, including cables, metal and steel wires, hindering the rescuers' efforts.

After rescue workers spotted some cracks in the debris heaped in the shaft, they dropped some peanuts down the shaft in an attempt to provide the trapped miners with some food, rescue team member Sun Yingxiang was quoted as saying by Dazhong Daily, a provincial newspaper.

Rescuers had cleared debris from the shaft to a depth of 350 meters by Saturday noon, he said.

Rescuers try to make contact with trapped miners at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 18, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rescuers drive a casing pipe down to establish a connection channel with trapped miners at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rescuers drive a casing pipe down to establish a connection channel with trapped miners at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Aerial photo taken on Jan 18, 2021 shows rescuers operating at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
01:43 2021-01-18
Paper slip from mine says 12 workers trapped still alive

A paper slip retrieved from underneath a mine said that 12 workers are still alive while the other 10 are in unclear situation, after they were trapped following a gold mine blast in East China's Shandong province, according to local authorities.

Rescuers said they felt people pulling the iron ropes used to deliver the nutrient solutions on Sunday night. The rescuers previously drilled a channel at 1:56 pm on Sunday, knocked on the drilling pipe and got knocking sounds back in response.

The blast took place at 2 pm on Jan 10 at a gold mine in Qixia under Yantai city. It happened about 240 meters away from the entrance. Twenty-two workers were working more than 600 meters away from there.

15:56 2021-01-17
Rescuers detect signs of life in Shandong mine where 9 are trapped
By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan
Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

A rescue shaft has reached the point where nine miners are assumed to be trapped following an explosion a week ago at a mine in East China's Shandong province, according to rescue teams.

Rescuers knocked on the drill rod and heard sounds in response on Sunday and are further identifying life signs, according to People's Daily. They also dropped food through the hole.

Machinery is drilling another five shafts, including one 71 centimeters in diameter, in search of alternative routes to the trapped miners.

The explosion occurred at 2 pm on Jan 10 at the Hushan mine in Qixia, under the administration of Yantai city.

A total of 22 workers were trapped at two workfaces more than 600 meters from the mine opening.

Drill work is being slowed by the complicated geological structure, according to the rescue command base.

Rescuers keep adding more rescue forces to save the trapped miners, according to the rescue command base.

A total of 439 people on 14 rescue teams are working around-the-clock in shifts at the site.

Rescuers have dropped some food, including peanuts, through the shaft, which miners used to go down to the workfaces, according to Dazhong Daily, the province's official newspaper.

The shaft has been blocked by debris, including cables, metal and steel wires, creating huge difficulties to clearing the shaft.

"There are some cracks among the debris heaped in the shaft, so we dropped some peanuts," Sun Yingxiang, a rescuer was quoted as saying by Dazhong Daily.

Rescuers have cleared debris in the shaft to a depth of 350 meters by Saturday noon, said Sun.

Li Ganjie, governor of Shandong, came to the rescue site on Saturday to urge rescuers to spare no efforts and seize every minute to save the trapped workers.

Rescuers try to contact with the trapped workers at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
Aerial photo taken on Jan 17, 2021 shows rescuers drilling a hole at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rescuers drill a hole at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia city, East China's Shandong province, Jan 17, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
18:03 2021-01-15
Shandong city officials removed over mine accident
By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan
Rescue workers continue their efforts to free 22 miners trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a gold mine in Yantai, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Yao Xiuxia, Party secretary of Qixia city in Shandong province and city mayor Zhu Tao were removed from their posts on Friday due to their major roles in the late reporting of an explosion at a gold mine at the city, according to Dazhong Daily, the province's official newspaper.

The explosion occurred at 2 pm on Sunday at the Hushan mine in Qixia, under the administration of Yantai city. But it was not until 8 pm the next day-30 hours later-that it was reported to Qixia's emergency department. 

The two will also be held accountable according to the results of an investigation.

Thirty-eight people and a large amount of equipment were added to the rescue effort by noon on Friday to save 22 gold miners trapped after an explosion underground in Yantai, Shandong province, according to the rescue command base.

The workers were trapped more than 600 meters from the mine opening, rescuers said. A total of 431 rescuers and hundreds of pieces of machinery are on the site.

Machinery is at work around the clock drilling six holes in search of alternative routes to the trapped miners. One holes had reached a depth of 526 meters as of noon on Friday.

Rescuers encountered mechanical difficulties while clearing debris in the shaft at a depth of 340 meters, according to the rescue base. The shaft is so narrow that no more than three people at a time can work on clearing debris, which has slowed the work. Rescuers are using hydraulic cutters to sever cables and wires, and oxy-acetylene torches to cut metal objects.

Drill crews have encountered difficulties such as drill bits stuck in rock cracks as they go deeper.

Rescue workers continue their efforts to free 22 miners trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a gold mine in Yantai, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Rescue workers continue their efforts to free 22 miners trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a gold mine in Yantai, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Rescue workers continue their efforts to free 22 miners trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a gold mine in Yantai, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
09:05 2021-01-13
Effort to find 22 trapped in gold mine ramps up
By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan
The rescue work is underway at a gold mine in Yantai, Shandong province, Jan 12, 2021. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

More than 320 rescuers have joined the search for 22 workers who were trapped underground after an explosion at a gold mine under construction in Yantai, Shandong province, according to news briefings held on Tuesday by the rescue team.

The explosion occurred 240 meters away from the mine entry at 2 pm on Sunday in Xicheng town of Qixia city, which is administered by Yantai city.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

The blast trapped 22 workers who were working more than 600 meters away from the entry, said Sun Shufu, head of the emergency management bureau of Yantai.

Due to damage to the communication system caused by the blast, rescuers have so far been unable to contact the trapped workers.

The Ministry of Emergency Management sent an expert team to the site to guide the rescue work on Tuesday morning.

Drilling machines have been installed at the site as part of the rescue effort. A drill pipe reached a depth of around 400 meters by 10 am on Tuesday, and rescuers equipped with respirators are being lowered to clear obstacles, Sun said.

The rescue effort has been slow because poisonous gas in the mine cannot be dispersed quickly, and drills have been blocked by obstacles that will take time to be cleared, he said.

By 4 pm Tuesday, the rescue buckets that take rescuers down have been lowered to 180.5 meters underground, and the system to detect sounds has reached a depth of 370 meters, said Sun.

The rescue team plans to drill three holes from the ground to provide air and supplies to the trapped workers, and one driller is currently working on drilling one of the holes, said Wang Zongwen, a member of the expert panel of the rescue team.

The gold mine is owned by Shandong Wucailong Investment Co.

The local government received an accident report from the mining company 30 hours after the accident occurred, according to Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday.

The company could be held accountable for the late report, Xinhua said.

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