Shanghai, China, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- One of 22 workers trapped in a Chinese gold mine for more than 10 days following an explosion fell into a coma after suffering serious head injuries from the incident, state media reported Wednesday.
State agency Xinhua said the worker lost consciousness when the mine under construction collapsed and is in serious condition, adding that two others showed slight discomfort since the accident happened on Jan. 10.
Eight of the 11 workers trapped in section No. 5 of the gallery are in good health, as they said via a telephone deployed through one of the conduits dug by rescue teams, Xinhua reported.
Those miners said another worker trapped in the sixth section is also injured, although his exact condition is unknown.
Nothing is known about the other 10 people who were in the mine at the time of the incident, which occurred about 240 meters from the entrance, although it is believed that the 22 workers were at that time about 600 meters from the blast.
Liquid with nutrients, millet porridge, thermometers and blankets have also been sent through the open ducts.
The miners – who are being contacted several times a day to ease their anxiety – asked for a replacement phone Tuesday night because water accumulating in the mine caused signal failures.
Ten conduits have so far been excavated and authorities are studying how to carry out the rescue, a task of great difficulty because in some areas ventilation ducts, drainage pipes or electrical cables overlap.
The National Health Commission sent a team of experts Tuesday from Beijing to the Qixia area, where the mine is located, to help in different fields of psychological and medical care – intensive care, neurosurgery, nutrition and poisoning.
So far 439 people and more than 350 machines have participated in rescue efforts.
The rescue is challenging because managers did not inform authorities until 30 hours after the incident. Several people have been dismissed, including the two highest political leaders in the area and an official investigation is underway.
China’s laws require the person in charge of an industrial unit in which an accident occurs to inform authorities within a maximum period of one hour.
Chinese mining operations, especially coal – main source of energy in the country – suffer a high accident rate, though in recent years fatal accidents have dropped significantly.
The official press reported Wednesday that Beijing has ordered safety inspections at more than 32,000 non-coal mines. EFE-EPA