May 4, 2011

3 Coal Miners Have Been Killed In Gas Explosion And 11 Still Missing In Northern Mexico!

France24 news
written by AFP staff
Thursday May 5, 2011

AFP - Rescue workers dug three bodies out of a coal mine in northern Mexico and scrambled early Wednesday to reach 11 other miners still missing after a suspected gas explosion caused a cave-in.

Labour Minister Javier Lozano confirmed the deaths in a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter late Tuesday, adding that he had spoken their families and warning the death toll from the accident could rise. “The prognosis is not encouraging,” he said.

Rescuers had been racing against the clock to dig out the miners after an explosion at 8:00 am (1300 GMT) Tuesday left them trapped some 50 metres (yards) underground on the site in Coahuila state, near the US border.

The condition of the remaining 11 miners was unclear some 16 hours after the blast, according to state authorities, who had earlier confirmed that 14 were missing.

The state prosecutor’s office said a 14-year-old boy working outside the mine near the entrance was wounded in the explosion. He was rushed to hospital, where both of his arms were amputated, it said in a statement.

Segismundo Doguin, a state civil protection official, told AFP that the blast was apparently caused by methane gas, and that the miners were trapped some 50 meters (yards) underground.

Anxious families had started to gather around the mine opening in the afternoon.
“The families are very desperate. We understand them, but it’s quite dangerous to enter the mine due to levels of methane present,” said Mayor Jesus Maria Montemayor, of the nearby town of Sabinas.

The high levels of methane prevented rescuers from entering the mine for several hours, until six rescuers were able to descend in the afternoon.

Civil protection workers, miners and soldiers were working to try to locate the group trapped inside the mine, which is in the same area where 65 miners died in a similar accident in 2006.

The area around the mine, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the US border, was cordoned off, and the injured miner had been evacuated to the state capital of Saltillo, Montemayor said.

President Felipe Calderon said he had ordered “everything in our power to be done to rescue” the miners.

“We’ll pray that they’re alive,” Calderon said during a visit to central Mexico.

A 2006 explosion in the Pasta de Conchos mine, near Sabinas, killed 65 miners. Most of those bodies have still not been recovered.

The miners, metalworkers and steelworkers union on Tuesday called on the government to take stronger action against companies who do not take sufficient safety measures on their sites.

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