Rescue teams will work non-stop to free 10 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in Mexico’s northern border state of Coahuila, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday.
The miners became trapped on Wednesday after three wells at the mine overflowed, causing an inner wall to collapse.
“With all my soul, I want us to rescue the miners,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference.
Five others were able to escape received medical treatment, and two of them have been discharged from a public clinic, Laura Velazquez, head of Mexico’s civil protection agency, said.
Several hundred local and federal officials were responding to the accident, according to authorities, underscoring a “firm commitment” to rescuing the trapped miners, which requires pumping wells to send rescue teams down to the mines.
“We haven’t slept, we’re working day and night … Time is key,” she said in a video at the president’s news conference.
Lopez Obrador added investigations into those responsible for the mine’s safety would come only after the rescue effort.
“We’ll leave all of that for later … we’re going to try to save the miners,” he said.
According to the Labor Ministry, the mine, which began operations in January, had no existing safety complaints.
In one of Mexico’s worst mining disasters, at a coal mine in Coahuila in 2006, 65 men were killed with only two bodies ever recovered. Lopez Obrador has vowed to find the bodies of the other victims. The technically complex work is expected to last through 2024.
(By Kylie Madry, Daina Beth Solomon, Ana Isabel Martinez and Barbara Lewis)