Rescuers searching for the remaining workers trapped in a Chinese gold mine after Sunday’s dramatic extraction of 11 survivors have found nine bodies, a local official said on Monday, taking the death toll to 10, with one miner still missing.
A total of 22 miners working about 600 metres (2,000 feet) underground were trapped after an explosion at the Hushan mine in Qixia, a major gold-producing region under the administration of Yantai in China’s coastal Shandong province, on January 10.
Eleven were pulled out alive on Sunday after two weeks underground, including one in a very weak condition to whom rescue teams had been unable to send supplies.
Search efforts will continue for the last remaining miner until he is found, said Chen Fei, the mayor of Yantai city, where the mine is located.
“Until this worker is found, we will not give up,” he said at a news conference.
Chen and other officials involved in the rescue effort held a moment of silence for the victims, bowing their heads.
“Our hearts are deeply grieved. We express our profound condolences, and we express deep sympathies to the families of the victims,” he said.
The cause of the accident at the mine, which was under construction, is under investigation. The explosion was large enough to release 70 tons of debris that blocked the shaft, disabling elevators and trapping workers underground.
Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident.
Rescuers drilled parallel shafts to send down food and nutrients and eventually bring up the survivors on Sunday.
Such protracted and expensive rescue efforts are relatively new in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. Increased supervision has improved safety, although demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt the cutting of corners. A new crackdown was ordered after two accidents in mountainous southwestern Chongqing last year killed 39 miners.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)