Nine more Chinese miners stuck underground for over two weeks have been confirmed dead, local government officials said on Monday, leaving one unaccounted for after a disaster at the site.

A group of 22 were stucked hundreds of metres underground by an explosion at the Hushan mine in eastern Shandong province on January 10, with some relying on food and medicine delivered through long shafts drilled by rescue teams.

Eleven survivors were finally rescued and brought to the surface on Sunday in a major breakthrough for a rescue operation that has delighted the nation.

“From Sunday afternoon to this afternoon, rescue workers have not stopped searching, and found a further nine trapped miners who unfortunately all died,” the mayor of Yantai city, Chen Fei, said at a briefing Monday.

“Along with one miner who died on Thursday, the bodies of the nine deceased miners were all lifted out of the mine.”

Rescue teams will not stop searching until the last remaining miner is found, Chen said, adding that high underground water levels in a section of the mine had complicated rescue operations.

The initial explosion happened in the mine’s ventilator shaft, causing an obstruction that defaced the cable car.

Chen said that all nine miners had been killed by the impact of a secondary explosion in the mine on January 10 as they were trying to escape, judging from their positions.

Rescue operations sped up dramatically on Sunday as a obstruction in the ventilator shaft was cleared.

Contact was first established a week ago with a group of 11 miners trapped in a section of the mine around 580 metres (1,900 feet) below the surface.

One of them was seriously injured in the initial explosion and died after falling into a coma.

Another miner was found alive by rescuers as they attempted to reach the group.

Mining accidents are common in China’s dangerous and poorly regulated sector.


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