It will take at least another 15 days to pass through a large amount of debris to reach miners trapped after an explosion 11 days ago in a gold mine in eastern China, authorities said.
The mine shaft is blocked 350 meters (1,000 feet) below the surface of 70 tons of debris, which extends down another 100 meters, the Yantai city government said. “Based on expert assessments, the extent of the blockage … is far from expectations.”
A miner has died from head injuries in the blast, state media reported earlier Thursday. Of the remaining 21 rescuers have made contact with 10, one is reportedly alive in a nearby cell and the status of the other 10 is unknown. Two of the survivors are said to be in poor health.
Rescuers have delivered food, medicine and other supplies to 11 and are working to remove debris and improve ventilation. They try to clear the cages and other debris blocking the main shaft while drilling other shafts for communication, ventilation and possibly to raise workers to the surface. The drill has reached a depth of about 700 meters (about 2,000 feet), state media reported.
Mine managers were detained for more than 24 hours before reporting the accident, the cause of which was not reported. The mine in Qizia, Shandong Province, was under construction when the explosion occurred on January 10th.
Tightened surveillance has improved safety in China’s mining industry, which used an average of 5,000 deaths a year, but the demand for coal and precious metals continues to cause a sharp delay, and two crashes in Chongqing last year killed 39 miners.