China: Rescuers free 11 gold miners after two weeks

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Eleven gold miners trapped underground for two weeks have been rescued in east China's Shandong Province on Sunday.

The miner was extremely weak, CCTV said on its Weibo site.

"On Sunday morning, a huge obstacle blocking the well suddenly fell to the bottom of the shaft, allowing rescue work to take a big step forward", lead rescue worker Du Bingjian told the state-run Global Times.

According to Chen, the 11 rescued miners are receiving proper medical treatment, and DNA tests are being conducted to confirm the identities of the deceased.

One trapped miner is still missing and search efforts are underway.

They were among 22 miners caught in a blast in the Hushan mine in Qixia, a major gold-producing region, on January 10.

TV footage showed the first miner, who was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light, being lifted out as emergency workers cheered. He was discovered in a separate section of the mine to a group of ten the rescuers had previously contacted.

"From Sunday afternoon to this afternoon, rescue workers have not stopped searching, and found a further nine trapped miners who unfortunately all died", Yantai Mayor Chen Fei told a briefing on Monday.

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Hours afterwards, another three miners were rescued from a different part of the mine.

"It is now unclear when the rescuers will reach the Sixth Central Section where the missing miners are believed to be".

The entry into the mine was severely damaged and communication was cut off by unexplained explosion.

Rescuers have also drilled smaller channels into other sections of the mine and are lowering nutrient solutions and other means to detect breathing or movement, but no signs of life have been encountered.

The body of one miner was found in the sixth Central Section.

Food and other supplies were lowered down the channel via a wire, and when the rescuers pulled the wire back 35 minutes later, they found that the supplies had been taken and a note was attached that said the miners were alive.

Last years there were 573 mining-related deaths last year, compared with about 5,000 fatalities 20 years ago, according to the National Mine Safety Administration. In September, at least 16 workers in southwestern China died after they became trapped underground in a coal mine and exposed to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, state media reported.

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