Chinese rescuers hope to drill shaft to bring trapped miners out


FILE PHOTO: Rescuers are seen at the site where workers were trapped underground after an explosion at the gold mine under construction, in Qixia, Shandong province, China January 20, 2021. China Daily via REUTERS

QIXIA, China (Reuters) - Rescuers in China were drilling new shafts on Thursday to reach miners trapped underground for 11 days following an explosion, including one they hope to use to bring the survivors back to safety.

A total of 22 workers were trapped underground in the Hushan gold mine on the outskirts of Yantai, in Shandong province on the northeast coast, in the Jan. 10 blast.

Rescuers have been in contact with 11 miners trapped in the middle section of the mine, about 350 metres underground, and have managed to send food and medical supplies down to them.

One borehole had to be sealed up with cement after a water leak threatened the miners' safety.

One miner is known to have died of injuries sustained in the initial blast, state media reported on Wednesday.

The local government said on its official social media feed on Thursday that rescuers had started drilling a tenth channel with a 711-mm (28 inches) diameter that they hope will allow the 11 to be extracted.

On Thursday morning, the road leading to the mine was sealed off by police to ensure rescue efforts are not hampered. About 600 people are involved in the rescue, with as many as 25 ambulances waiting at the scene, as well as neurosurgeons, trauma specialists and psychologists.

A Reuters team saw fire trucks and cars coming and going through a checkpoint on an approach road.

(This story is refiled to correct first paragraph, removes extraneous indefinite article)

(Reporting by Emily Chow in Qixia; Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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