Los Angeles Times

Mexico races to save 10 trapped miners


SABINAS, Mexico — Efforts to rescue 10 miners trapped in a collapsed and flooded coal mine in northern Mexico intensifie­d Thursday with hundreds of people involved in the operation, authoritie­s said.

The collapse occurred Wednesday after the miners breached a neighborin­g area filled with water, officials said. Authoritie­s had not reported any contact with the miners since the collapse.

The miners are trapped between two 200-foot-deep mine shafts more than half flooded with water, Undersecre­tary of Defense Agustín Rádiala Suástegui said Thursday. Rescuers were working to pump water out.

The National Guard was expected to send six special forces scuba divers into the mine when conditions allow.

Civil Defense Coordinato­r Laura Velázquez said five miners had managed to escape the collapse. Three of them remained hospitaliz­ed. Authoritie­s had initially reported nine trapped miners Wednesday but revised that number to 10 on Thursday.

The mine is in Sabinas, about 70 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas. The mine began operations this year, and the local government said it had not received any complaints or reports of previous incidents.

More than 24 hours after the collapse, relatives of the miners waited in the shade of a tree outside the mine. Police and soldiers restricted access to the mine.

Alfredo Torres, cousin of a trapped miner, said he had been volunteeri­ng in the rescue effort since Wednesday. Torres, wearing a plastic helmet and clothes and boots coated in mud, said that rescuers had been using small pumps since the day before to remove water from the shafts, but that the water remained high.

“No one can go in,” Torres said. “We have to first try to pump out all of the water, get it out, so the miners can go in to rescue their co-workers.”

He said there had been no contact with the trapped miners.

Torres said he hoped to find them alive but recognized that “many hours have passed and the water is still very high.”

A small chapel was set up outside the mine at which family members could pray for the miners’ rescue.

Bishop Alonso Garza from the Diocese of Piedras Negras, a border city, complained that conditions for miners are bad and called on the government and companies to improve safety. “Each time that a tragedy like this happens they say yes and unfortunat­ely now no,” Garza said.

In June and July 2021, cave-ins at two mines also in Coahuila state claimed the lives of nine miners.

Mexico’s worst mining accident ever occurred in Coahuila. On Feb. 19, 2006, an explosion ripped through the Pasta de Conchos mine while 73 miners were inside. Eight were rescued. The rest died.

The Pasta de Conchos Family Organizati­on, made up of relatives of those lost in that tragedy, said in a statement Wednesday that the latest mining accident shows that the structural dangers that led to the 2006 collapse have not been addressed, citing a lack of inspection­s, complicity with mining companies and little protection for workers.

It called on the government to do everything possible to rescue the miners and review mining conditions in the area.

 ?? Marcos Gonzalez AFP/Getty Images ?? SOLDIERS JOIN the rescue operation in Sabinas, Mexico. The miners are trapped between two shafts.
Marcos Gonzalez AFP/Getty Images SOLDIERS JOIN the rescue operation in Sabinas, Mexico. The miners are trapped between two shafts.

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