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Obstacles slow bid to rescue trapped Mexican miners

#Obstacles #slow #bid #rescue #trapped #Mexican #miners

Rescuers trying to enter a flooded Mexican coal mine where 10 workers had been trapped for more than a week encountered obstacles blocking their advance, authorities said Thursday.

A soldier wearing a helmet and military suit and equipped with a scuba tank climbed down one of the mine shafts in a metal cage on Wednesday and emerged minutes later, visibly wet.

The rescue team made four attempts to explore the roughly constructed El Pinabete mine in northern Coahuila state, but debris prevented them from entering the main tunnel below, officials said.

“They found they had no space to move forward. There are obstacles,” Defense Secretary Luis Cresensio Sandoval said.

Rescuers would continue trying to gain entry, the general told reporters in Mexico City.

Five workers were able to escape after the accident on August 3, but there was no contact with the others.

Two underwater drones were deployed in the Agujita operation, as were hundreds of soldiers and other rescuers, 25 water pumps and seven drills.

According to authorities, the flood happened when miners were digging and hit an adjacent water-filled mine.

So far, the focus has been on pumping water out of the 60 meter deep mine.

The water in the shafts had fallen sharply from more than 30 meters but was still several meters deep, authorities said.

“We will evaluate it throughout the day. We have to be careful not to endanger anyone,” said Laura Velazquez, national coordinator of civil protection.

Prosecutors have announced an investigation into the accident, which is common in Coahuila, Mexico’s main coal-producing region.

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

– Families are waiting –

The frustration grew in the tight-knit mining community with each passing day.

“It’s been eight days now. We’re running out of hope because they (the authorities) aren’t giving us information that gives us hope,” a miner and volunteer rescuer told AFP.

The government’s announcement on Wednesday that rescue workers were about to enter the mine was met with caution by concerned relatives.

“Let’s hope it’s true now. They say the same thing every day,” said Juan Orlando Mireles, whose father is among the missing.

Artist Roberto Marquez traveled 800 kilometers (500 miles) from Dallas, Texas to Agujita with the canvas depicting the missing miners.

The 60-year-old Mexican painter travels the world capturing tragedies, but also the hope that emanates from them.

“We wish that our brothers get out alive,” said Marquez, who also painted a mural in San Antonio, Texas, after more than 50 migrants who were abandoned in a trailer died in June.

He also created another after the May massacre of 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and one near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the first weeks of the Russian invasion.

“It has to be a message of support,” said the artist, who exhibited his work, which is reminiscent of the Mexican mural and Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” painting, with the help of relatives near the mine entrance.

Angelica Solano, a 58-year-old housewife who lives nearby, came with food trays for loved ones and rescuers.

“Anytime there’s a disaster or someone needs our support, we’ve always done it as a family,” she said.

“We have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who always need us,” she added.

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#Obstacles #slow #bid #rescue #trapped #Mexican #miners

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