Time is running out and the priority of the rescue teams displaced to Coahuila is to save the 10 workers who were trapped after the collapse of a mine in the municipality of Sabinas. The authorities have reported this Friday, two days after the collapse, that almost 400 agents are working to find the miners alive. In addition, 18 pumps have been installed to extract water from wells near the mine and allow rescuers access. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had expressed the government’s priorities the day before: “What I want with all my soul is that we rescue the miners. We are leaving the investigations about those responsible, the permits and the inspections for later”.
The coal mine that collapsed on Wednesday is located 350 meters from a tributary of the Sabinas River, in the community of La Agüita, 300 kilometers from Saltillo, the state capital. Near the area of the collapse there are three wells that are currently flooded. There the rescuers have placed the necessary pumps to extract the water and allow the search teams to safely access the mine, known as Las Conchas. Currently, there are 18 pumping equipment installed and one more is expected to arrive this Friday. The national coordinator of Civil Protection, Laura Velázquez, has stated that “it is essential” to reduce the water level to find the workers.
“We are working tirelessly to rescue 10 miners who were trapped,” Velázquez said. Five workers had managed to get out the day of the collapse, which occurred at noon while working at a depth of 60 meters. According to the latest report, two of them have already been discharged and three are progressing “favourably” in the hospital. Velázquez explained that the Federal Electricity Commission has placed seven electric power generators and three transformers, in addition to another four provided by mining companies. With this deployment, it has been possible to extract 60 liters of water per second from the wells, that is, an average of 5,111 cubic meters each day.
The undersecretary of National Defense, Agustín Radilla, has indicated that on August 3, when the rescue work began, the water level was 34 meters. This morning it had been reduced to 32. “Now there are 30 meters that the water has,” explained the soldier. “Two perforations were made that will allow a curtain to be placed to prevent more water from reaching the wells where the accident is. They are going to do another two and this will make it possible to ensure that the water level goes down”, he said. Radilla added that 230 soldiers, 33 National Guard agents and 120 civilians are deployed on the site, that is, 383 in total. 26 vehicles, four aircraft and seven ambulances are used.
Tragedies like this happen every year in Coahuila, a state in the north of the country that supplies 99% of the mineral that is sold to the Federal Electricity Commission. The deadly conditions in which these facilities operate caused just over a year ago, in June 2021, the death of seven workers when another coal mine near Sabinas collapsed despite warnings from different human rights organizations. But thousands of families depend on these jobs and the companies continue without guaranteeing minimum security conditions.
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