China successfully rescued eleven miners that were trapped inside a gold mine after the entrance tunnel collapsed following an explosion on 10 January.
TV footage showed the first miner, who was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light, being lifted out as emergency workers cheered.
A total of 22 miners were trapped in the blast at the Hushan gold mine in Shandong province. At least one died, and it is still not known if the remaining workers are alive underground.
The fate of 10 other miners remains unknown, as rescue operations continue to try to locate them.
Workers were seen walking by themselves, supported by rescue workers, before being transported to hospital.
Rescue efforts have been sped up significantly, as a tunnel that was being bored out to reach the trapped miners was expected to take weeks to dig.
“On Sunday morning, a huge obstacle blocking the well suddenly fell to the bottom of the shaft, allowing rescue work to take a big step forward,” lead rescue worker Du Bingjian told the state-run Global Times.
Mining accidents in China are not uncommon and are often due to poorly enforced safety regulations.
In December last year, 23 miners died after a carbon monoxide leak at a coal mine.
In September, 16 workers were killed at another mine on the outskirts of Chongqing when a conveyor belt caught fire, producing high levels of carbon monoxide.
In December 2019, an explosion at a coal mine in Guizhou province, south-west China, killed at least 14 people