Authorities have mounted a massive operation to rescue the miners. 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.
One miner is confirmed to have died, while 11 are known to be alive. The remaining 10 are missing.
The blast went unreported for 30 hours, resulting in the sacking of two officials.
Rescuers are drilling new shafts to reach the men in the middle section of the mine, more than 600 metres from the entrance. Another survivor has been found in a different section.Some narrower shafts have already reached the miners, allowing food, water and medical supplies to be lowered. Some shafts have been abandoned for technical reasons and some are still being drilled.
The shafts include one 711-mm (28-inch) diameter shaft that rescuers hope to use to bring the survivors to safety. An air ventilation shaft that rescuers also want to use to pull the miners to safety has been cleared to a depth of about 350 metres (1,148 feet). However, a “severe blockage” was much worse than feared, officials said, adding that it was about 100 metres thick and weighed some 70 tonnes.The miners may have to wait another two weeks before they can be rescued because of the blockage on their intended escape route, officials said on Thursday.
Police have sealed off the road to the mine, cutting through muddy apple orchards and warehouses, to ensure rescue efforts are not hampered. Health workers in white protective gear took temperatures beside mounded earth and tents as part of COVID-19 precautions.
A Reuters team saw fire trucks and cars coming and going through a checkpoint on an approach road.
China’s mines are among the world’s deadliest. It has recorded 573 mine-related deaths in 2020, according to the National Mine Safety Administration.