Shanghai, China, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- At least 12 of 22 workers who were trapped more than a week ago after an explosion at a gold mine in eastern China are still alive, state press reported Monday.
Rescuers lowered a rope with supplies Sunday night and felt how the miners were pulling it to catch them, after which a group of the trapped workers sent back a note detailing their location.
After 10 days, the status of the other 10 people who remained underground in the Shandong province mine remained unknown.
Rescue teams, now comprising more than 400 people, managed to drill to the surface of the tunnel where the workers are, and in the next few hours planned to send them food, water and a telephone to contact them.
Likewise, an extraction of toxic gases was carried out, although experts said the platform where the miners were located was far enough away from the explosion for the air to remain breathable.
The incident occurred about 240 meters from the entrance, although the 22 people trapped were working at that time about 600 meters from the area.
However, rescue efforts are “extremely difficult,” partly because mine managers did not report the accident until 30 hours after it occurred.
Several arrests have been made so far and the general secretary of the Communist Party and the mayor of the town of Qixia, where the complex is located, have been dismissed.
According to state newspaper Global Times, Chinese law says the manager of an industrial unit in which an accident occurs must inform local authorities within a maximum period of one hour.
Chinese mining operations, especially coal – the country’s main energy source – have a high accident rate, though in recent years the number of fatal accidents has dropped significantly. EFE-EPA