Eleven workers trapped inside a Chinese gold mine for two weeks were safely brought to the surface on Sunday, a historic achievement for the industry due to disasters and long-dying tolls.
State broadcaster CCTV saw workers in baskets one by one on Sunday afternoon, with their eyes shielded to protect them in the darkness of so many days.
Some put their hands together in gratitude and many appeared almost weak to stand. They were rapidly covered in coats and loaded into ambulances amid the freezing temperatures.
Hundreds of rescuers and officials noted and applauded the staff as the workers were brought from the mine of Kixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.
On 10 January, a laborer was killed after an explosion caused large amounts of debris to accumulate in the shaft, while the mine is still under construction.
The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time is unknown. Authorities have detained the mine managers for delay in reporting the accident.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the explosion was large enough to contain 70 tons of debris, which blocked the shaft, causing elevators and laborers to go underground.
Rescuers drilled parallel shafts to send food and nutrients and eventually brought in survivors, 10 of which were slightly closer to the surface in the lower chamber and in a different area.
The official China Daily newspaper stated on its website that seven activists were able to walk to the ambulance on their own.
Such prevalent and costly rescue efforts are relatively new in China’s mining industry, which used to cause an average of 5,000 deaths per year. Increased surveillance has led to improved security, although there has been a steady decrease in demand for corner and precious metals. A new action was ordered after 39 miners were killed following two accidents in mountainous southwestern Chongqing last year.