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Relatives Pray for Miracle as Mexico Miners Remain Trapped in Coal Mine


August 6, 2022 - Hundreds of rescuers have continued their efforts to find 10 workers trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern Mexico as relatives clung to hope they were still alive, more than 48 hours after a cave-in sparked a major rescue operation.

Family members spent a second night on Friday waiting anxiously for news after the latest disaster to strike Mexico's main coal-producing region in Coahuila state.

"I feel desperate, not knowing what's happening and when I'll see him again," said Jesus Mireles Romo, whose father was among the missing.

Five miners managed to escape in the initial aftermath of the cave-in on Wednesday, but since then no survivors have been found.

Photo: AFP

"But I have faith that it will turn out well, that they will all get out," he told the AFP news agency, his eyes red from crying.

"It's painful to see your children who don't lose hope of seeing their father again," said his mother Claudia Romo, 45.

Five miners managed to escape in the initial aftermath of the cave-in on Wednesday, but since then no survivors have been found.

More than 300 soldiers and other personnel joined the rescue effort unfolding about 1,130 kilometres north of Mexico City, the government said.

Soldiers and emergency workers laboured through the night under floodlights pumping out water from the mine to try to make it safe enough to enter.

Authorities said the three mine shafts descended 60 metres and the floodwater inside was 30 meters deep –– slightly lower than the day before.

"It's essential to reduce the water level... to allow the safe entry of specialised search and rescue personnel," civil defence national coordinator Laura Velazquez said.

"We're working tirelessly to rescue the 10 trapped miners," she said.

History of Accidents

Crudely constructed mines like the one that collapsed lack concrete reinforcements to protect workers from a cave-in, engineering expert Guillermo Iglesias said.

The miners "dig a shaft two meters in circumference and keep digging until they reach a small layer of coal," he told local radio.

The only thing supporting the surrounding earth is usually a large plastic tube through which the workers enter, he added.

Coahuila's state government said the miners had been carrying out excavation work when they hit an adjoining area full of water, causing the shaft to collapse and flood.

Coahuila has seen a series of fatal mining accidents over the years.

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

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

Only two bodies were retrieved after that tragedy and the families have repeatedly urged the Mexican authorities to recover them.