1 dead, 6 missing in the collapse of a coal mine in northern Mexico
MEXICO CITY – The body of a miner was found on Saturday in a small coal mine in a northern Mexican border state that was flooded and collapsed, leaving six miners still missing. There had been complaints for years about the unsafe conditions in the mines in the area.
The Federal Civil Defense Bureau said the body of a minor has been found and searches are continuing for the other six in the coal belt in the northern state of Coahuila.
Coahuila’s labor department said the mine was apparently hit by some sort of collapse and flooding. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said a dam or holding pond had collapsed, causing the flooding.
Efforts were concentrated on pumping water from the mine. The army sent a 28-member team to search for casualties in the collapsed structures and they were using two trained dogs at the mine.
The Micarán mine, located in the township of Muzquiz, appears to be a type of narrow and deep open pit with steep earth walls, with at least one tunnel at the bottom digging into the working face. The area is approximately 80 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas.
Coal mines in the region have been affected by fatal accidents in the past. An accident on February 19, 2006, in the Pasta de Conchos mine near Sabinas, Coahuila, killed 65 miners, but only two bodies were found.
Mexican authorities called off the search and shut down the mine five days after the accident, arguing it was dangerous due to the poison gas.
The Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center published a letter from the families of miners killed in the Pasta de Conchos disaster, claiming that the area’s coal mines routinely violate safety codes.
The group of relatives has looked at conditions at a large number of mines since 2006 and reported that around 100 miners have died in accidents since the Pasta de Conchos accident. During recent mine inspections, they said, they found miners working in sneakers without safety gear, clean water or gas monitors.
“The rule continues to be that these mines operate in appalling conditions,” the group wrote. “For decades, mines have been allowed to operate within the law. “
Most of Coahuila’s small-scale mines are surprisingly primitive; rough logs are used to prop the tunnels, and miners descend to the top of buckets of raw coal on cables pulled by car engines.
The issue is critical for López Obrador, who has vowed to seek justice for the families of the miners, while simultaneously increasing the amount of coal the government purchases to burn in power plants.
López Obrador wrote in his social media accounts that federal forces were contributing to the effort and said: “We hope the rescue will be positive for loved ones and for everyone.”
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