Update 2: Miners being trapped for a week contacted
Published: Jan 17, 2021 03:22 PM

Rescuers work at the explosion site of a gold mine in Qixia City, east China's Shandong Province, Jan. 17, 2021. Twenty-two workers have been trapped underground after an explosion ripped through the gold mine that was under construction in east China's Shandong Province. Rescuers have drilled a hole from the ground to the tunnel where the trapped workers are located. (Xinhua/Wang Kai)

Almost 168 hours after the goldmine explosion in East China's Shandong Province, a written message sent from the mine said at least 12 of the 22 mine workers trapped have been contacted, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday.

A wire rope had been lowered into the mine to send supplies to the workers during the rescue work and all the supplies were taken around 11pm on Sunday, with a note being sent back saying 12 miners got contacted but the situation of 10 others is not clear. 

The trapped workers also said in the note that they are exhausted, and they are in need of medical supplies including painkillers, antibiotics, bandages and medicines for stomachache and high blood pressure, reported on Monday.

Air is not flowing well and the mine is full of dust cloud and water, the note read.

"We hope the rescue will continue, and we will have hope. Thank you," it reads.

Earlier on the day, some tapping sounds in response down in the shaft have been heard, indicating there might be signs of life from the trapped miners.

Rescuers at the site of the goldmine explosion have drilled a borehole from the surface to the tunnel where the trapped workers were located. Contact is expected to be established and food and water will be delivered, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday. 

At around 2 pm Sunday, rescuers heard tapping sounds in response down from the shaft, nine echoes at most, indicating there might be signs of life, a local official said on Sunday. 

Next, rescuers will do their best to make further contact with the 22 trapped miners through the borehole, sending life detection equipment, a wired phone and nutrient fluid into the shaft, local authorities said on Sunday.

The goldmine explosion in Qixia, Yantai of Shandong Province, took place on the afternoon of January 10, trapping 22 miners underground. However, it was not reported to local authorities until 30 hours later on Monday night. Large-scale rescue efforts are still being carried out, but frontline rescuers said it will be extremely difficult to bring out the miners. 

The people responsible for the 30-hour delay in reporting the explosion have been detained and will be dealt with severely, local authorities said Wednesday.

Two local senior officials, the secretary of the CPC municipal committee of Qixia and the mayor of Qixia, have been removed from their positions following the mine blast.

A local resident in Yantai surnamed Liu told the Global Times previously that on hearing of the accident, many people from other mines around the area volunteered to go to the site and join in the rescue efforts, "but none of the trapped miners have been rescued in the 72 hours since the explosion." 

Nine major rescue teams made up of more than 320 members and over 70 pieces of machinery and equipment at the scene have been working day and night since Monday. The Shandong government has called on rescue workers from all around China, but as of Wednesday afternoon, no signals had been received from those trapped in the shaft.

Rescue teams at the scene have completed the venting of toxic gases. Experts present there said the platform where the miners were trapped was far enough away from the explosion that the air was not dangerous and had conditions necessary for survival.

"But the rescue has been made extremely difficult due to the late report, which took up precious rescue time," said frontline rescuers.

China's law clearly regulates that the person in charge of the accident unit must report accident information to the local government within an hour of receiving the on-site report. China also has severe penalties for late reporting and concealment of accidents.