Written note seeds hope for trapped miners in China

A total of 22 workers were trapped in the Hushan mine, in Shandong province, after a blast on Jan 10.
A total of 22 workers were trapped in the Hushan mine, in Shandong province, after a blast on Jan 10.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • At least 12 gold miners trapped hundreds of metres underground in China for more than a week have sent up a written note warning some are injured, water surrounds them and they urgently need medicine.

Twenty-two workers were trapped more than 600m from the mine's entrance after a blast eight days ago at the mine near Qixia city in eastern Shandong province. After days without any signs of life, rescuers heard knocking sounds on Sunday afternoon as they drilled through the mine's shaft.

A note was sent up on a line from the depths below saying that at least a dozen of the miners were still alive, but pleading for help as their health and conditions deteriorate.

"We are in urgent need of medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure," the note read.

The condition of the other 10 is unknown.

Four people were injured, according to the note which was crumpled, water-stained and scrawled in pencil on pages ripped out of a notebook. "We wish the rescuers won't stop so that we can still have hope. Thank you," the note read.

The writer of the note asked rescuers to send down some medication from his car, and warned that there was a large amount of underground water where the miners are trapped.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed rescue workers sending a wire taped with food and drinks down a small opening to the miners.

Hopes of a miracle rescue triggered an outpouring of sympathy and encouragement on social media.

The hashtag "Qixia gold mine incident" was viewed 130 million times on Weibo.

"I saw the note while I was watching the morning news and burst into tears," one Weibo user wrote. "I hope they will rescue the trapped workers as soon as possible."

Rescuers intend to drill multiple tunnels into the mine, to vent air as well as deliver supplies while work continues on bringing the miners back up to safety, CCTV said.

The explosion badly damaged the communications system and exit ladder from the mine, which is owned by the Shandong Wucailong Investment Co. Two officials have already been sacked over the accident.

Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often weakly enforced.

Last month, 23 miners died after being trapped in a mine in the south-western city of Chongqing - just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped underground at another coal mine in the city.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2021, with the headline 'Written note seeds hope for trapped miners in China'. Subscribe