Mexico races to rescue 10 trapped coal miners

Mexico races to rescue 10 trapped coal miners

Rescue personnel work at the coal mine where 10 miners were trapped yesterday after a collapse, in the Agujita area, Sabinas municipality, Coahuila state, Mexico, on August 4, 2022. — AFP pic

Friday, 05 Aug 2022 7:34 AM MYT

SABINAS, Aug 5 — Dozens of rescuers battled Thursday to free 10 workers trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern Mexico, where desperate relatives spent a sleepless night waiting for news.

Soldiers, emergency workers and rescue dogs were deployed after the latest disaster to strike Mexico’s main coal-producing region in Coahuila state, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

“What I want with all my soul is that we rescue the miners,” he told reporters.

“We must not lose faith. We must not lose hope,” he added.

Five miners managed to escape alive after the cave-in Wednesday in Sabinas and were taken to hospital, civil defence national coordinator Laura Velazquez said, adding that two had been discharged.

“Time is crucial here,” she said.

Authorities said the mine’s three shafts descended 60 meters (200 feet) and the floodwater inside was 34 meters deep.

“It’s complicated,” Velazquez said.

But the authorities were making progress and pumping out water “to rescue the miners as soon as possible,” she added.

Around 230 army and other government personnel were sent to the site, about 1,130 kilometers (700 miles) north of Mexico City, the defence ministry said.

At least five pumps were being used to tackle the flooding, but Lopez Obrador urged the national water agency to send more equipment.

‘Not much hope’

Anxious relatives gathered to wait for news, with some crying and comforting each other.

“Unfortunately, there’s not much hope,” Jose Luis Amaya, whose cousin and brother-in-law were among those trapped, told Milenio TV on Wednesday night.

The mother of one of the workers wept inconsolably, unable to answer questions from the press.

Through tears, another woman at the scene said two of her children worked in the mine, though one of them had managed to escape after the accident.

As night fell hours later, the families gathered under tents outside the mine in silence as state police, the national guard, medical teams and other rescuers worked to find the trapped miners.

Coahuila’s state government said the miners had been carrying out excavation work when they hit an adjoining area full of water, causing the shaft to collapse and flood.

“The mine began operating in January of this year and until now there have been no reports of any type of anomaly,” it said in a statement.

State governor Miguel Riquelme said he had asked labour authorities and the local prosecutor’s office to prioritize the rescue and investigation.

Coahuila has seen a series of fatal mining accidents over the years.

Last year, seven miners died when they were trapped in the region.

The worst accident was an explosion that claimed 65 lives at the Pasta de Conchos mine in 2006.

Only two bodies were rescued after that tragedy and the families have repeatedly urged the Mexican authorities to recover them. — AFP