Eleven miners trapped for two weeks in a Chinese gold mine were safely transported to the surface on Sunday, a landmark achievement for an industry long suffering from disasters and soaring deaths.

The state-run CCTV showed that the workers were being transported one by one in baskets on Sunday afternoon, with their eyes protected to protect them after several days in the dark.

Some gathered their hands together in gratitude and many appeared to be weak from standing up. They were quickly covered in coats in freezing temperatures and loaded into ambulances.

Hundreds of rescue workers and officials stood on notice and applauded as the miners were lifted from the mine in Qixia, an area under Yantai authority in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

Rescue workers help a miner at the Hushan gold mine after an explosion in Qixia, Shandong
Rescue workers assist a miner as he is brought to the surface at the Hushan Gold Mine after the January 10 explosion that trapped workers underground, in Qixia, Shandong Province, China on January 24, 2021.

cnsphoto via Reuters

One of the miners was reported to have died of injuries to the head in the explosion that accumulated massive amounts of rubble in the mine on January 10 while the mine was still under construction.

The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time remains unknown. Authorities detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but the blast was large enough to release 70 tons of rubble that sealed the shaft, disrupted elevators, and trapped workers underground.

Rescuers dug parallel poles to send food and feeders and eventually bring survivors, 10 of them were in a basement room and one in a separate area a little closer to the surface.

The official China Daily newspaper said on its website that seven workers managed to walk to the ambulances on their own.

These lengthy and costly rescue efforts are relatively new to China’s mining industry, which has averaged 5,000 deaths a year. Increased supervision has improved safety, although demand for coal and precious metals continues to drive corner cuts. New campaign orders were issued after two accidents in a mountainous southwestern Chongqing region last year, killing 39 workers.

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