Caution before entry of divers to a mine with 10 workers trapped in Mexico

With more caution than enthusiasm, relatives of the ten workers trapped for a week in a flooded mine in northern Mexico awaited the entry of rescuers on Wednesday to return them to the surface.

“All the rescuers are with the team to be able to enter at any time today,” said the national coordinator of Civil Protection, Laura Velázquez,

A soldier equipped with an oxygen tank, but wearing a commando uniform and helmet, descended into one of the wells mounted on a kind of metal basket, according to AFP.

Minutes later, the same soldier returned with his clothes visibly wet after having apparently carried out a scouting raid.

The governor of Coahuila, Miguel Riquelme, later reported via Twitter that one of the military divers went down to shaft number 4 of the mine but found “obstacles to being able to enter the galleries” of it.

“The pumping work will continue so that they can re-enter and continue with the search and rescue,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Civil Protection system said that drone overflights were carried out to “map the location of work points and obtain georeferenced information” from the rescue area, in a Twitter message.

He added that the deployed task force includes 25 bombers, seven drills and two underwater drones.

Hundreds of soldiers and other rescuers are taking part in the operation in the town of Agujita, in Coahuila state, a coal mining area in the north of the country.

Around the El Pinabete mine, relatives of the miners heard reports from authorities that very early said that the water in the wells had reached an “optimal” level for them to begin exploring and for divers to enter.

“Let’s hope that now it is true. Every day they say the same thing,” expressed a skeptical Juan Orlando Mireles, who along with two brothers awaits the return alive of José Luis, his father.

Five days ago, the military erected a perimeter fence that keeps journalists, but also many relatives, away from the rescue area.

From that point it is difficult to observe the various actions carried out by the rescuers.

The mine where the incident occurred on August 3 is about 60 meters deep and is partially filled with cloudy water and solid elements that have so far prevented rescuers from entering, according to images from aquatic drones released by Civil Protection.

– A lot of accumulated water –

The Mexican government said the trapped miners opened a hole in an adjoining mine that was flooded, causing water to overflow into the shaft where they were maneuvering.

Since then, the authorities have been focused on lowering the water level to 1.5 meters to make access viable.

In a region of Mexico hit by a severe drought, the amount of liquid that has been extracted for seven days is surprising.

Mireles, a miner like his father, explains that this may have to do with the proximity of the Sabinas River and the existence of the old Las Conchas mine, abandoned more than 30 years ago, and where the enormous amount of water that filled these precarious coal pits.

Unlike the “pocitos,” an artisanal method that opens a hole from the surface to the coal mantle, industrial mines like Las Conchas have long underground tunnels where water would have accumulated, explains Mireles.

Workers usually go down these cavities that lack reinforcements on their walls, unlike industrial operations.

According to the governor of Coahuila, Miguel Riquelme, the deposit operated by a private company did not have updated plans.

The attorney general’s office announced that it has opened an investigation into the accident, frequent in this state.

In June 2021, seven workers died after the collapse of another coal mine in Múzquiz, some 43 km from Agujitas.

The most serious mining incident in this region occurred on February 19, 2006, when a gas explosion at the Pasta de Conchos mine, controlled by the Grupo México conglomerate, caused the death of 65 workers. Only two bodies were recovered.


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