Darkness and debris impede rescue effort at flooded Mexico mine

Mexican army divers were blocked by debris in their first attempt to descend deep into a flooded coal mine in northern Mexico where 10 miners have been trapped for a week, the country’s defense minister said Thursday.

Miners were trapped in a mine in the border state of Coahuila on August 3 when a tunnel wall collapsed during their excavation work, flooding parts of the underground mine.

In a statement Thursday evening, Mexico’s attorney general’s office said it had requested a court hearing in Coahuila to charge the mine’s alleged owner with “illegal exploitation” of state property, citing “failure to comply with legal obligations” for coal mining.

Mexican authorities on Thursday had dramatically lowered the water depth to about 100 feet (30 meters) initially, but struggled to send rescue teams even on preliminary efforts to gauge whether conditions would be safe for a rescue mission.

Members of the security forces stand next to a collapsing coal mine shaft in Mexico’s Coahuila state.
Reuters

Two army divers entered one of the three flooded mine shafts on Wednesday, and a miner and a rescue professional submerged four times to clear the debris, but were unable to fully enter the mine.

“It was blocked,” Defense Minister Luis Crescencio told a news conference Thursday.

Rescuers participate in the rescue of miners trapped in a collapsed coal mine in Sabinas, Coahuila state, Mexico, on August 11, 2022.
Rescuers participate in the rescue of miners trapped in a collapsed coal mine in Sabinas, Coahuila state, Mexico, on August 11, 2022.
Reuters

“There is no room to move forward, there are barriers… there are still some wooden planks. Despite their lights to see inside, they don’t have the necessary visibility to identify what they’re looking for,” Crescencio said.

Crescencio said authorities will continue to try to enter the mine while ensuring the safety of rescue teams. The water depths in the three shafts measure about 30 feet (9 m), 23 feet (7 m) and 16 feet (5 m).

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