Rescuers inch towards four miners trapped 200 metres underground for last 10 days
Published 04/01/2016 | 09:52
Rescuers are moving slowly towards four workers who have been trapped underground in a wrecked gypsum mine in eastern China for 10 days, media reports have said.
China National Radio said the men are trapped more than 656ft (200m) below the surface.
Because the ground is fragile, rescuers have managed to drill a path only 82ft (25m) deep after more than 40 hours.
Rescuers using infrared cameras detected the survivors last Wednesday - five days after the cave-in.
At least one person was killed in the mine collapse in Shandong province on December 25. Thirteen others are missing, and 11 made it to safety or were rescued earlier.
Rescuers initially believed they had found eight trapped survivors but have been able to make contact with only four.
Rescue leader Du Bingjian said he could not give a time when the trapped men would be pulled out, but said they had managed to drop provisions to them.
The same narrow opening used for cameras was used to deliver bottles of nutritional liquid, which would have to float on water towards the miners. But the so-called lifeline hole is not wide enough for a person.
Gypsum is a soft sulphate mineral which is widely used in construction.
After the collapse, mine owner Ma Congbo jumped into a well and drowned in an apparent suicide. Four local government officials have been sacked.
China's mines have long been the world's deadliest, but safety improvements have reduced deaths in recent years. In 2014, 931 people were killed in mine accidents in China, drastically down from the year 2002, when nearly 7,000 miners died.