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Mexico prepares to search underground for trapped miners

#Mexico #prepares #search #underground #trapped #miners

Mexican authorities said on Friday they were finally able to begin searching a flooded coal mine where 10 workers have been trapped for more than a week, offering new hope to the tormented relatives.

“We have all the makings of going there today… to search for and rescue the miners,” said Laura Velazquez, national coordinator of civil protection.

Velazquez said the rescue would be possible once “97 percent of the water” had been extracted from the 60-meter-deep mine at Agujita in northern Coahuila.

“The necessary search and rescue resources have been prepared,” she said via video link during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s daily press briefing.

The water level in one of the three vertical shafts that rescuers will enter has been lowered to 70 centimeters (27 inches) from an original more than 30 meters, Defense Secretary Luis Cresensio Sandoval said.

The other two shafts still have 3.9 and 4.7 meters of water.

Authorities believe 1.5 meters is an acceptable water level to gain access to the roughly constructed El Pinabete mine.

“Definitely we will keep pumping… The process is slow but we don’t want to take any chances,” Velazquez said.

– songs, prayers –

The announcement was a new glimmer of hope for families who are increasingly frustrated by the pace of the rescue effort.

“With that level of water, you can already enter — God willing,” David Huerta, the brother-in-law of one of the trapped workers, told AFP.

The 35-year-old said he mined for coal himself in small artisanal mines like El Pinabete for almost 13 years before giving up the dangerous, grueling job.

At the end of the vertical shafts, rescuers will reach the underground tunnels where the excavation is taking place and where the missing miners are likely to be, Huerta said.

“Crews can go in there and search faster,” he added.

There have been no signs of life from the 10 miners trapped inside since the August 3 accident.

Five miners managed to escape after the first accident, in which excavation workers encountered an adjacent area filled with water.

Several hundred rescuers, including soldiers and military divers, join the effort to save the miners.

Relatives and friends held a candlelit vigil for the missing on Thursday night, singing and praying for their safe return.

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

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

Last year seven died when trapped in a mine in the region (one mine).

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#Mexico #prepares #search #underground #trapped #miners

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