Chinese rescuers on Sunday pulled to safety 11 workers who had been stuck 2,000 feet down a gold mine for 14 days — with 10 others still lost and at least one dead.
Hundreds of rescue workers and officials applauded as the 11 survivors were hauled up one-by-one in baskets from the mine in Qixia on Sunday afternoon.
The rescued men shielded their eyes from the sun after so many days in darkness. Many brought their hands together in gratitude, while some appeared too weak to stand.
The men — who had been getting liquid food sent through a makeshift shaft while underground — were covered in coats amid freezing temperatures and put into ambulances.
They were half of the 22 trapped since Jan. 10 when an explosion shifted an estimated 70 tons of debris, blocking the shaft, disabling elevators and trapping workers at least 2,000 feet underground.
At least one of the miners was reported to have died from a head wound in the blast while the other 10 remain unaccounted for, officials said.
One of the 10 appears to be trapped on his own about 325 feet down in rising waters, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing state-run media. So far rescuers have been unable to contact him.
They have yet to locate the other 9 missing miners, and hopes of being able to rescue them alive are dwindling fast, the report said.
More than 600 rescuers have been working at the site of the explosion, which remains under investigation, officials said.
hina’s mines are among the world’s deadliest, and once averaged 5,000 deaths per year. Even after a series of safety improvements, there were still 573 mine-related deaths in 2020, according to the National Mine Safety Administration.
Sunday’s rescue was reminiscent of the 2010 mission when 33 miners were pulled from a copper-gold mine in Chile where they’d been trapped more than 69 days.
The Chilean miners, who were caught in a cave-in, survived on rations of food and water for 17 days until rescue crews gave them a lifeline by drilling a tiny hole into the chamber where they had taken refuge.
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Weeks later, a larger hole was drilled and the miners were pulled to the surface as a captivated global audience watched.