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12 workers trapped for a week in Chinese gold mine blast are alive

Rescuers drill a new shaft Monday to try to reach trapped workers in a gold mine in eastern China.
Rescuers drill a new shaft Monday to try to reach trapped workers in an eastern Chinese gold mine that was hit by an explosion Jan. 10.
(Wang Kai / Xinhua News Agency)

Chinese state media said Monday that at least 12 out of 22 workers trapped for a week by an explosion in a gold mine are alive, as hundreds of rescuers seek to bring them to safety.

The Xinhua News Agency reported that a note passed through a rescue shaft Sunday night said the fate of the other 10 miners remains unknown.

The handwritten note said that four of the workers were injured and that the condition of others was deteriorating because of a lack of fresh air and an influx of water.

Managers of the operation were detained after they failed to report the accident for more than a day. The mine in Qixia, a jurisdiction under the city of Yantai in Shandong province, had been under construction at the time of the blast, which occurred Jan. 10.

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More than 300 workers are seeking to clear obstructions while drilling a new shaft to reach the chambers where the workers are trapped and to draw off dangerous fumes.

“Keep on with the rescue efforts. We have hope, thank you,” read the note, written in pencil on notebook paper and posted on Xinhua’s website.

China’s advantage in rare-earth elements, a critical material to high-tech products including smartphones and electric cars, comes at a high environmental and human cost.

China’s mining industry has a reputation for skirting safety requirements amid massive demand for coal and precious minerals, although increased supervision has reduced the frequency of accidents that used to claim an average of 5,000 miners per year.

Two accidents in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing last year killed 39 miners, prompting the central government to order another safety overhaul.


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