Rescuers race to free 10 miners trapped in flooded mine in Mexico

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SABINAS, Mexico — Round-the-clock pumping lowered the water level in the flooded shafts of a coal mine where ten miners were trapped in northern Mexico, but two days after a collapse it remained too high for anyone to attempt a rescue, authorities said. Friday.

National Civil Defense Coordinator Laura Velázquez said it was “indispensable” to reduce the amount of water in the 60-meter-deep mine shafts before divers or other specialized personnel could enter. Workers simultaneously tried to prevent new water from entering the shafts.

The mine in Sabinas, Coahuila, about 70 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas, collapsed while 15 miners were working Wednesday afternoon. Five managed to escape with injuries. Authorities say the miners breached an adjacent room full of water. Since the collapse, there has been no contact with the miners.

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Javier Martínez, the Coahuila state delegate for the National Mine Workers Union, said the area where the mine operated is full of old abandoned mines that are often flooded. He said locals are sometimes given small concessions and then contract groups of non-union miners to work, usually without safety measures such as ventilation systems, emergency exits and security equipment.

Such operations are not overseen by the labor minister, he said.

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Accidents at such small operations are common because miners work without cards, often with pneumatic hammers hitting old mine shafts full of water, he said.

In this case, the miners’ chances of survival are “complicated” and depend on the force with which they enter the water, the amount of mud it carries, whether it sweeps away the wooden supports that support the shaft walls, and whether the miners enter the water. can reach. a corner of air.

“Thank God, because it’s progressing, little by little,” said Elizabeth Vielma Moreno, a relative of one of the miners.

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In June and July 2021, collapses at two Coahuila mines claimed the lives of nine miners.

Mexico’s worst mining accident also occurred in Coahuila on February 19, 2006, when an explosion ripped through the Pasta de Conchos mine while 73 miners were inside. Eight were rescued with injuries, including severe burns. The rest died and only two of their bodies were recovered.

The government of López Obrador promised two years ago to recover the remaining 63 bodies, a highly technical undertaking that has still not started.

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