Eleven workers trapped for two weeks by an explosion inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday.
State broadcaster CCTV showed miners being hauled up one-by-one in baskets, their eyes shielded to protect them after so many days in darkness.
One worker was reported to have died from a head wound following the blast that deposited massive amounts of rubble in the shaft on January 10 while the mine was still under construction.
The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time is unknown. Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident.
The official China Daily said on its website that seven of the workers were able to walk to ambulances on their own.
State broadcaster CCTV showed numerous ambulances parked alongside engineering vehicles at the mine in Qixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in Shandong province.
One man discovered on Sunday, was in “extremely weak physical condition”, CCTV said. He was in a separate section of the mine from the 10 workers who had already established contact with rescuers.
Rescuers have been battling difficult conditions to help the workers. State broadcaster footage showed a small lift carriage lifted to the surface by a huge drill, accompanied by rescue workers. A masked man, who appeared unable to stand, was carried out.
Contact was first established a week ago with the group of 11 miners trapped in a section of the mine about 580 metres (1,900 feet) below the surface.
One miner seriously injured in the initial explosion was confirmed dead after suffering head injuries and falling into a coma.
Rescue teams have been lowering food, medicine and other supplies through several “lifeline” shafts drilled into the rock. Life detectors and nutrient solutions have been lowered to other parts of the mine to find the other missing miners.
Hopes are dwindling for the other trapped miners as they have not been heard from since the explosion.
Rescue workers said on Friday it could take at least another two weeks to free them, citing a massive blockage that has delayed drilling efforts, according to state media.
The rescuers are trying to widen one of the shafts to eventually allow the workers to be brought up to the surface.
Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often weakly enforced.
Increased supervision has improved safety in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. However, demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting, and two accidents in Chongqing last year killed 39 miners.
SOURCE : NEWS AGENCIES