Chinese rescuers plan to drill shaft to free trapped miners

One death reported among 22 gold miners trapped underground for 11 days

Members of a rescue team work at the site of a gold mine explosion where 22 miners are trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province on January 18, 2021. At least 12 gold miners trapped hundreds of metres underground in China for more than a week have sent up a note warning that they are injured, surrounded by water and urgently need medicine. - China OUT
 / AFP / -
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Rescuers in China were drilling new shafts on Thursday to reach miners trapped underground for 11 days after an explosion, including one they hope to use to bring the survivors back to safety.

There were 22 workers trapped underground in the January 10 blast in the Hushan gold mine on the outskirts of Yantai, a major gold producing region in Shandong province on the north-east coast.

Rescuers have been in contact with 11 miners stuck in the middle section of the mine, about 350 metres underground, and 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 10th channel with a 71-centimetre diameter that they hope will allow the 11 to be extracted.

On a foggy Thursday morning, the road leading to the mine was sealed off by police to ensure rescue efforts were not hampered. Health workers in protective gear took temperatures as part of Covid-19 precautions.

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 engines and cars coming and going through a checkpoint on an approach road.