Death toll rises to at least 10

At least 10 people have now died after being trapped hundreds of metres underground after an explosion in the shaft of a gold mine in China two weeks ago.

The new death toll comes after nine bodies were discovered by rescuers on Monday in the eastern province of Shandong. It was reported last week that another miner had died from a head wound.

The blast on 10 January caused debris to block the shaft, which was still under construction, trapping miners underground.

Eleven miners have since been rescued, with teams now desperately trying to save the one remaining worker still trapped.

“Until this worker is found, we will not give up,” said Chen Fei, the mayor of Yantai city, where the mine is located.

The mayor and other officials involved in the rescue effort held a moment of silence for the victims.

A total of 22 miners were trapped about 600 metres underground after the explosion at the Hushan mine.

The cause of the blast is not yet clear, and investigators are looking into it.

The message said several miners were wounded, that the conditions of others were getting worse because of the lack of fresh air and water, and that some urgently needed medicine.

The explosion released 70 tonnes of debris that blocked a shaft, disabling elevators and trapping workers underground.

Rescuers drilled parallel shafts in order to send down food and nutrients, and to eventually bring up the survivors on Sunday.

The first worker brought to the surface wore a black blindfold to protect his eyes after spending a fortnight surrounded by darkness, footage of the rescue showed.

The 11 miners taken to safety at the weekend were mostly in relatively good health.

Just days before the miners were rescued, officials had suggested they would need another fortnight until they would be able to reach them.

Mine managers have been detained over delays in reporting the accident.

China seals off village after bubonic plague death

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A village in China has been sealed off after a resident died from bubonic plague, authorities in the country have said.

Daily disinfection of homes has been ordered in Suji Xincun, a tiny settlement in the Inner Mongolia region.

It has not been revealed how the villager came to have contracted the disease, but health officials in the nearby city of Baotou said no one else has yet tested positive for it.

Nine close contacts and 26 secondary contacts of the patient have been quarantined and found negative for the illness, the Baotou Municipal Health Commission revealed in a statement on Thursday.

Damao Banner, the district where the village is located, has also been put on level three alert for plague prevention, the second lowest in a four-level system.

It is the first death – and only the second case – of bubonic plague China has confirmed this year. The previous case was discovered in July in Bayannur, another city in Inner Mongolia. That also lead to the issuing of a level three alert and the closure of several tourist spots.

Plague, caused by bacteria and transmitted through flea bites and infected animals, killed an estimated 50 million people in Europe during the Black Death pandemic in the Middle Ages.

According to the World Health Organisation somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 people still catch the disease every year.

But antibiotics that can treat most infections if caught early have long reduced the fear factor once associated with the infection.

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