Chile struggles to rescue 34 trapped miners

12:49, August 07, 2010      

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There was still a chance that 34 copper miners trapped underground were alive in case they were taking refuge in an emergency shelter with enough oxygen and food, Chile's Labor Minister Camila Merino said on Friday.

But the minister said no information was available about exact location of the miners. Recuers were fighting day and night to reach them.

"The information we have is that there is oxygen and food. There is ventilation and that is positive. There is enough space, and we hope they are there," Merino said upon arrival in Copiapo city, near which the mine is located.

The shelter has enough oxygen to enable the workers to survive for 72 hours. The workers have been trapped since Thursday noon in the mine located about 40 km from the northern city of Copiapo and 800 km north of the capital, Santiago, she said.

"We have to work with caution, because if we produce another collapse, we put rescuers at risk and reduce the possibility of rescuing the miners fast," Merino said.

Till now, all attempts to contact the miners have been unsuccessful, and the rescue operation has been slowed by the need to reinforce the tunnel to avoid further collapses.

"To the moment we have not been able to contact them. The rescuers are looking for all the best ways to go down through other places to reach the place where they are," Ximena Mata, governor of the Atacama region, said.

The private mining company San Esteban, which operates the mine, said it is unclear what caused the cave-in at the mine located in Chile's arid northern Atacama region.

The company faces serious questioning about its security measures, since an explosion at its mine in 2007 killed three miners, according to local media.

Source: Xinhua


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