Rescuers estimate that it will take at least two more weeks to free the miners trapped underground for already 12 days, despite the frantic continuation of drilling operations to reach them.
Twenty-two workers at the Qixia gold mine in eastern Shandong province were trapped on January 10 following an explosion that blocked exits and cut communications.
A minor died this week from his injuries: seriously injured by the explosion, he had lost consciousness.
Wednesday evening, he showed no more signs of life.
Ten are located at a depth of approximately 580 m and communicate by telephone with the surface.
In the message that the survivors managed to send to the surface, they wrote that there were four wounded in their ranks.
They said they were exhausted but remained hopeful, since we were looking for them.
According to state television CCTV, drilling operations are complicated by the geological structure of the soil, made up of particularly hard rocks like granite.
“The obstacles are too great.
We will need at least another 15 days, or even more, before reaching the minors, ”Gong Haitao, deputy director of the communication department of the local authorities, told the channel.
About 1,300 cubic m of rubble, estimated at 70 t, are still blocking the well, according to the rescue headquarters.
1,300 m3 of rubble to be cleared
Thanks to a wire rope lowered into a narrow well dug in the rock, rescuers were able to deliver food, medicine and phones to the miners who moved a little further away, but in a room that was safer than the one surrounded by the waters, where they were originally.
To extract them, this well or another must be widened, and several drilling operations are carried out simultaneously.
CCTV on Friday released footage of several piles of debris dug out of the ground and a powerful drill rig in action.
630 rescue professionals are hard at work.
No news from eleven other minors
Rescuers still have no news from eleven minors.
While still trying to spot them from the surface, the survivors try to do the same under the rock.
They have used lasers and loudspeakers, but their attempts have so far received no return.
Presence detectors and nutrient pockets await them in other sections of the mine, in case they have found refuge in a remote area.
VIDEO. Accident in a gold mine in China: 22 miners trapped
Accident in a gold mine in China: 22 miners trapped