At least 15 days to reach stranded miners, Chinese officials say. China

Officials said it would take at least 15 more days for a gold mine in eastern China to reach the trapped miners through a large amount of debris since an explosion 11 days ago.

The Yantai city government said that the mineshaft is blocked by 70 tons of debris 350 meters (1,000 feet) below the surface, which extends up to 100 meters. “Based on expert evaluation, the range of interruptions is … well beyond expectation.”

State media said on Thursday that one miner was killed in the blast. Of the remaining 21, rescue teams have established contact with 10, one is reportedly alive in a nearby chamber, and the status of the other 10 is unknown. The remaining two are reported to be ill.

Rescuers have given food, medicine and other supplies to 11 and are working to remove debris and improve ventilation. They are attempting to clean cages and other debris that close the main shaft while drilling, ventilation and possibly drilling other shafts to lift workers to the surface. Boring has reached a depth of about 700 meters (about 2,000 feet) according to state media reports.

Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the accident, the reason for which has not been announced. The mine was under construction in Qizia, Shandong Province, when the explosion occurred on 10 January.

An increase in supervision in China’s mining industry has improved safety, with an average of 5,000 deaths per year, but demand for coal and precious metals continues to prevent corner-erosion, and two accidents in Chongqing last year Killed 39 miners.

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