Chinese rescue teams say it might be more than two weeks until they can save a group of miners trapped hundreds of metres underground.
They have been trapped since an explosion closed the entrance tunnel to the Hushan gold mine in Shandong province on 10 January.
Authorities made contact with 11 surviving miners a week after the blast, but one has since died.
Rescuers have drilled small holes to supply food and medicine to the men. The cause of the explosion that sealed the mine entrance is still not known.
The fate of another 11 miners trapped by the blast is unclear – authorities have been unable to communicate with them despite lowering food and messages into other areas of the mine.
The group discovered alive told rescuers they had established communication with a lone miner about 100m below them, but had since lost touch with him. Currently, rescue operations are trying to widen a narrow shaft to make it big enough to lift the miners out.
However, drilling is proving difficult as it needs to get through particularly hard granite and the miners are trapped far from the surface. Rescuers face an added problem in that the mine is waterlogged and there’s the risk the chamber where the miners are stuck could flood.
A communication line has been established and food and medicine can be lowered to them through a narrow shaft.
While they’ve been receiving porridge and nutritional liquids, the miners a few days ago asked for a traditional meal of sausages. Eight of them are thought to be doing well, while two are in poor health.
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Source: BBC NEWS