Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Eleven gold miners trapped underground for two weeks were rescued in east China's Shandong Province on Sunday.
On Jan. 10, 22 miners became trapped about 2,000 feet underground in Qixia, Yantai City, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. One worker reportedly died from the blast at the mine, which was under construction. The fate of the other 10 wasn't known.
The first miner was lifted from the mine Sunday morning and was rushed to a hospital in "extremely weak physical condition," state broadcaster CCTV reported. The 10th and 11th miners were brought to the surface hours later.
Seven workers were able to walk to ambulances on their own, China Daily reported.
The rescue operation included 633 people and 407 pieces of equipment.
One week ago, contact was first established with a group of 11 miners trapped in a section of the mine.
Food, medicine and other supplies had been lowered to them.
The accident was not reported to local authorities until 30 hours after it happened.
There were 573 mining-related deaths last year, compared with about 5,000 fatalities 20 years ago, according to the National Mine Safety Administration.
But Han Dongfang, director of worker rights advocacy group China Labor Bulletin, told the South China Morning Post the decrease was likely due to the closure of small mines with poorer safety records, and the use of imported coal.
"From the work we've done in the past few years, talking to labor unions in China and trying to hold them accountable, our observation is that the workplace safety monitoring has not changed at all," Han said. "One of the most important reasons for the drop in coal mining accidents is the reduction in coal production in China."