Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

65 feared dead in Mexico’s mine explosion

Relatives grow increasingly desperate after 48 hours of no vital signs

After 48 hours of unsuccesfull rescue operations, relatives of the 65 Mexican miners trapped by a gas explosion 600 feet underground grow increasingly desperate and harshly demand for an official response for the catastrophe. Officials said that while prospects were dim, there was still a chance of finding survivors from Sunday morning's explosion at the Pasta de Conchos mine near the town of San Juan de Sabinas, 85 miles southwest of the US border.

The trapped men had carried only six hours of oxygen, but officials said they believed a ventilation system that uses huge fans to pump in fresh air and suck out dangerous gases was still working. Even so, they could not be certain the precious oxygen was arriving to where the miners were trapped.

The coal mine collapsed on Monday and since then Mexican teams have been tunneling through dirt and rock to find the workers. Since then, relatives of the miners have camped outside the pit but could not get a word from their relatives.

Juan Rebolledo, vice president of international affairs for mine owner Grupo Mexico, said oxygen tanks were scattered throughout the site, but it was impossible to know if the trapped miners had access to any of them.

According to Mexican officials, rescuers avoided using electric or gas-powered machinery because of the presence of explosive gases. Medical doctors were on the site to examine rescue workers as they emerged from their eight-hour shifts in the tunnels.

Despite the unsuccesfull operations, President Vicente Fox’s chief spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, said Monday that the government "has a lot of hope that everyone will get out alive." In turn, a spokeswoman for the National Miners' Union, said there had been concern over safety conditions in Grupo Mexico mines. She called for an investigation into the cause of the accident and the responsibility of company officials.

At least a dozen workers who were near the entrance at the time of the explosion were able to escape. They were treated for broken bones and burns.

Hernan Etchaleco