Help is still at least 15 days away for gold mine workers trapped underground for nearly two weeks in China's Shandong province due to a blast at the site as rescuers struggle to clear a massive amount of debris.
Authorities: Blockage Beyond Expectations
A statement from the Yantai city government, where the gold mine is located, said that expert evaluations found "the extent of the blockage ... is well out of expectation."
The city government also said on its social media statement that the 70 tons of debris have blocked the mine shaft 350 meters (1,000 feet) below the mine's surface, making the rescue operations more arduous.
Local media reports earlier revealed that rescue teams have attempted to clear the blockage at the main shaft and boring is said to have reached around 700 meters in depth.
Other rescuers drilled shafts for communicating with the remaining 21 survivors. One of the original 22 workers who were trapped under the mine has since died after being in a coma.
While rescuers were able to communicate with at least 11 of the miners, the status of the other 10 is not known.
Food and Medicine Delivered
On Tuesday, Yantai city mayor Chen Fei said that rescuers were able to communicate with the survivors through telephone contact. Food and medicine have also been delivered, he said.
Through thin shafts drilled across three channels, paper and pencils were also delivered to the mine workers.
Chen acknowledged that while necessities have reached the trapped miners, the rescue operation itself has been slow. He also expressed concerns about the water potentially flooding the mine.
Devastating Note from Trapped Workers
For the first time since the Jan. 10 explosion that trapped the mine workers, Chinese state media reported on Monday that the survivors were able to pass a note to rescuers through a drilled shaft Sunday night.
In the handwritten note, it was revealed that four workers were injured. The note said ventilation was a huge problem, with some other workers' health deteriorating because of a lack of air coming through.
Aside from lack of fresh air, the note also confirmed concerns that water has started increasing on the mine's surface.
Finally, in a heart-breaking last few words, the note read, "Keep on with the rescue efforts. We have hope, thank you."
Flashback to December Deaths of 23 Coal Miners
This is not the first time news of a mine-related incident in China has caught the attention of the public. Last month, state media reported that 23 people died at the Diaoshuidong coal mine in Chongqing city.
A total of 24 people were trapped at the coal mine when a carbon monoxide leak occurred. Only one person was pulled out of the mine.
In September, another similar accident took place the Songzao coal mine. The said mine is also located in Chongqing. At least 16 workers died due to hydrogen sulfide poisoning.