Ten miners in E.China goldmine confirmed dead, one remains missing
Published: Jan 25, 2021 05:13 PM

Officials from East China's Shandong Province observe a moment of silence on Monday for the deaths of 10 miners who were killed in a goldmine blast. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Ten miners trapped in a goldmine in Qixia, East China's Shandong Province, have been confirmed dead, after 11 others were rescued on Sunday, an on-site rescuer told the Global Times. One trapped miner is still missing and search efforts for him are underway.

After bringing out 11 miners as of 3:18 pm on Sunday, rescuers descended into the mine and saw the bodies of the other 10 miners. All showed no signs of life, chief on-site rescue expert Du Bingjian told the Global Times on Sunday. 

All reporters, rescuers and officials observed a moment of silence for the 10 miners during a news conference on Monday.

Judging by the bodies, some of the miners may have starved to death, and some died from injuries sustained in the explosion, Du said.

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

Goldmine rescue team leader explains details of obstacle clearance, at a press conference on Monday in Yantai, East China's Shandong Province. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Previously, clearance work encountered great difficulties, but 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, after which the rescuers brought up 11 miners. 

As the obstacles were cleared, rescuers were allowed to go down into the goldmine to the Sixth Central Section, where it was believed the other miners were located. The body of one miner was found in the Sixth Central Section. Eight miners were found in the Third Central Section and the Fourth Central Section, which were closer to the surface. 

According to earlier reports, the 11 miners were working at the Sixth Central Section when the explosion took place. They may have tried to move up the shaft and get closer to the surface. 

The explosion took place on January 10. A total of 22 miners were trapped underground, but the accident was only reported to the local authorities 30 hours later. Top rescue teams and equipment were quickly summoned to the city for all-out rescue efforts, which went on for 14 days.

On Sunday, the rescuers lifted 11 miners to the surface. Some of the miners were able to walk to ambulances with the help of the rescuers. One rescued miner held his hands together as a gesture of thanks to the rescuers, and one shouted, "Tell my family I'm still alive!" 

The rescued miners were rushed to the Qixia City People's Hospital. Each miner in the hospital has an individual team of doctors, nutritionists and security.

Chen Baojun, brother of rescued miner Chen Baoren, told the Global Times on Monday that the rescued miners have not yet met with their families. "We are relieved to know that they are safe now, and will wait patiently for further arrangements to be made."

Five of the 11 rescued miners are in a stable condition and do not need medication. Four are in relatively good health, but are receiving medication due to pre-existing conditions. Two suffered serious �?but not life-threatening �?injuries, officials said at Monday's news conference. 

Zhang Shoubao, an associate professor of safety engineering at the China University of Mining and Technology, pointed out that with China's continuous efforts on mine safety, the number of annual mine accidents has dropped significantly in recent years. Official figures show that between 2000 and 2020, the number of deaths in coal mines nationwide fell from 5,897 to 225, and no coal mine gas accidents had occurred in 2020.

"But mine safety risks still exist, and more precautions and safety awareness are needed," Zhang told the Global Times.

Explosions in gold mines are even less frequent than in coal mines, because there is usually little flammable gas associated with gold. Explosions in gold mines occur mostly because of the improper blasting operations in the mining process, Zhang noted. 

"However, according to what the rescuers experienced, this explosion was much stronger than most explosions caused by blasting, so it is difficult to speculate on the specific cause of this accident."

The cause of this accident is still under investigation.

Although not all the miners were rescued, Zhang pointed out that the rescue was still a very good one in terms of strength, speed and planning. "After a 30-hour delay in the prime rescue time, the rescue team arrived at the scene quickly, set up proper rescue plans and advanced very quickly, but unfortunately they failed to bring back all the miners."

Due to the delay in reporting the incident, a representative of the company was detained and the officials responsible were removed from their posts.