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“Crucial day” for captive Mexican miners

#Crucial #day #captive #Mexican #miners

A major operation to rescue 10 captive Mexican miners was nearing a pivotal moment on Saturday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, raising the hopes of desperate loved ones.

“Today is a crucial day because according to experts we will know if it is possible for the divers to enter safely,” he tweeted.

More than 300 soldiers and other personnel, including six military divers, have joined the rescue effort in the northern state of Coahuila, the government said.

After Wednesday’s accident, five workers managed to escape from the roughly constructed mine, but no survivors have been found since.

The focus was on pumping water from the mine at Agujita in Sabinas municipality to make access safe enough.

Authorities said the three mine shafts went down 60 meters (200 feet) and flood water inside was 30 meters deep on Friday.

“The main problem is the flood, although the pumping equipment is sufficient,” Lopez Obrador said.

The Coahuila state government said the miners were digging when they encountered an adjacent area full of water.

– ‘Trust God’ –

Experts spotted a leak from nearby mines and want to find its exact location so they can prevent water from flowing into the area where workers are trapped, said Nazira Zogbi, Coahuila Labor Minister.

A French company provided equipment to support the task, she said, without naming the company.

The arrival of more powerful pumping equipment is also cause for optimism, Zogbi added.

“Great progress has been made. It looks like we have better news,” she said.

Water from the mine was seen flowing through drainage channels, raising the hopes of relatives who spent a third night anxiously awaiting news.

“In the last two days we haven’t seen any progress with the water, but now we see that a lot of water has spilled,” Elva Hernandez, the mother-in-law of one of the trapped workers, told AFP.

“We still hope they’re in a higher part (of the mine) even though there’s too much water… but we trust in God,” added the 71-year-old.

Coahuila, Mexico’s main coal producing region, has seen a string of fatal mining accidents over the years.

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

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

After this tragedy, only two bodies were recovered.

Miners and their families painted a picture of a precarious profession that is fraught with risk due to lax safety standards.

“When everything is fine you don’t think about the danger, but when something happens you think about stopping,” said Luis Armando Ontiveros.

Finding a new job doesn’t seem like a viable option for the 48-year-old, whose father taught him to dig for coal at an early age.

The father-of-three said he needs the equivalent of about $500 a month to pay for his children’s education so they don’t have to follow in his footsteps.

Social Tags:
#Crucial #day #captive #Mexican #miners

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