Chinese Miners Pulled to Surface 2 Weeks After Underground Explosion

The Four Percent

HONG KONG — Two weeks after an explosion left a group of miners trapped 2,000 feet below ground in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, at least 11 were found alive and lifted to the surface on Sunday, a bright spot after a grueling and uncertain rescue effort.

The first rescued miner was brought to the surface at 11:13 a.m. Sunday, according to officials in Yantai, a city near the small town where the mine is located. Rescue personnel applauded as he was brought to the surface, according to video broadcast by Xinhua, the state-run news agency. The miner, wearing a long green coat with his eyes wrapped in black cloth, was lifted into an ambulance and immediately taken to a hospital.

He was “extremely weak,” the Yantai city government said on an official social media account.

In the afternoon, rescuers continued bringing miners to the surface in groups of two or three. The later groups also wore eye coverings for protection after such a prolonged period without sunlight. Some were carried out, but others appeared to be in better health and able to walk with assistance.

China has some of the world’s most dangerous mines, and 573 people were killed in mine accidents last year, according to China’s National Mine Safety Administration. But experts say conditions have improved in recent years. Last year’s toll was a decline of 22 percent from the previous year, and for the first time since 1949 the country recorded no major coal mine gas explosions, Xinhua reported.

The first miner who was rescued on Sunday was in a separate tunnel from the other 10 known to still be alive underground. That main group has been receiving food, water, medicine, clothing and other supplies through boreholes.

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