The rescue of ten workers trapped for 11 days in a flooded mine in Mexico suffered a serious setback on Sunday (14) due to a “sudden” rise in water levels, which dealt a blow to family members’ hopes of seeing loved ones again. .
The water level of well 2, which until Friday (12) was 70 centimeters and where the greatest hopes were concentrated for the next entry of rescuers, rose to 12.92 meters, the government of the state of Coahuila detailed in a statement. .
“Engineers are already evaluating the real situation and the cause of the new water entering the mine,” he added.
In wells 3 and 4, however, the water rose to 15.5 meters and 12.5 meters, respectively, the statement said, an increase of between 8 and 10 meters from levels reported by authorities on Friday.
“A new strategy is designed by specialist engineers (…) that allows, with new data, to carry out actions for the extraction of water found in the El Pinabete mine”, informed the government.
After receiving the news, Magdalena Montelongo, sister of Jaime, one of the trapped miners, tries to remain calm and serene, but frustration is inevitable.
“I don’t know what strategies or what else they are going to do,” he told AFP. “Maybe it’s no longer in their hands, the engineers or whoever’s inside. They don’t know where the water comes from anymore,” she adds.
The national coordinator of Civil Protection and responsible for the operation, Laura Velázquez, asked family members to make it clear “that we will not abandon them, neither they nor the trapped miners”, according to a statement.
Velázquez indicated that the El Pinabete mine faces “extraordinary conditions” due to its location next to the Conchas Norte mine, abandoned about 30 years ago, a period in which it “accumulated a very high volume” of water.
“The Conchas Norte mine is 100 times larger, as the El Pinabete mine has 1.8 hectares and the Conchas Norte mine has 180 hectares,” Civil Protection detailed in the text.
The miners’ families denounced on Saturday (13) that they felt “desperate” in view of the slow progress of the rescue, at the same time that they expressed their distrust in the leadership of the operation and in the maneuvers carried out so far.
“A very strong pain”
On Friday, Velázquez had acknowledged that “there is no way” to determine when they could reach the area of the mine where the workers are expected to be trapped.
However, she also said that there were “conditions” for entering the mine after the water level had dropped.
Family members on Saturday expressed their fear that the trapped workers could not be rescued, as happened after the accident at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine, also in Coahuila, on February 19, 2006.
At Pasta de Conchos, a mine controlled by the Grupo México conglomerate, 65 workers died, but only two bodies were recovered.
Gil Rico Montelongo, Magdalena’s cousin, was one of the miners whose remains were never recovered in Pasta de Conchos.
“What I don’t want is for them [falem] that nothing can be done (…) It is very strong to lose a brother, it is a very strong pain”, added the 66-year-old woman.
The Agujita accident occurred when the wall of an adjacent, flooded and abandoned mine collapsed, causing the well where 15 miners were working to flood. Five of them managed to escape.
Since then, there have been no signs of life for the 10 remaining workers, whose rescue involves several hundred people, including soldiers, officers and volunteer miners.
Mining accidents are frequent in Coahuila, Mexico’s main coal producer.