Ten miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in Coahuila region of Mexico


Emergency rescue teams and anxious families are gathered at a site in northern Mexico where 10 miners remain trapped in a flooded coal mine.

The miners were trapped at 1:35 pm Wednesday, when they breached an adjoining area filled with water. An inner wall collapsed, flooding the mine with the group of miners inside.

They are stuck between two 200-foot-deep mine shafts flooded more than halfway with water, according to a presidential press briefing.

A team of over 92 military personnel is working with specialists and four rescue dogs at the site, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a statement. The emergency team is trying to reduce the water in the mine, so that search-and-rescue teams can enter. They pumped water out of the site’s flooded tunnel, releasing it through a hose.

Six scuba divers from the National Guard Special Forces will also be dispatched, the presidential office said.

Relatives of the trapped miners are anxiously waiting outside the site for more information.

Five miners have been able to get out and receive medical attention, the president’s office said.

The mine is located in Coahuila, Mexico’s primary coal region, which is the location of 98 percent of the nation’s production, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Extracting coal from mines is dangerous, with risks including rockfalls, collapses, fires and explosions resulting from flammable gases being ignited. Long-term inhaling coal dust can also be hazardous, causing the irreversible black lung disease, which includes lung scarring and inflammation, and respiratory issues. Exposure to methane is hazardous, too.

In February 2006, the Coahuila region had one of its deadliest incidents when a gas explosion caused an avalanche of rocks to trap dozens of underground miners in the Pasta de Conchos mine. In total, 65 miners were killed. Only two bodies were ever recovered, in part because of the government’s choice not to attempt a full rescue, citing risks associated with the trapped methane gas.

In the years since, families of the killed miners have fought to recover the bodies of their loved ones and find closure. In 2019, Mexico’s government committed to creating an action plan to recover and return the remains of their families, according to the rights group Peace Brigades International Mexico.

In the summer of 2021, nine miners were killed in cave-ins at two mines in the region.

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