Rescuers race to free miners trapped in flooded mine in Mexico

CNN's Daniela Gonzalez-Roman

(CNN) – Ten miners have been trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern Mexico for over 24 hours, as rescuers battle to reach them.

The incident was reported Wednesday afternoon, when the miners encountered an abandoned tunnel with water that flooded the mine, authorities said.

Rescuers managed to extract five people from the mine on Wednesday, and are now working to pump water out of the flooded area, according to National Coordinator of Civil Protection, Laura Velazquez, who is overseeing the rescue operation.

“We have not slept, we are working day and night, uninterrupted,” said Velazquez on Thursday.

“We are strategically putting pumps in each of these wells to be able to extract the greatest amount of water and have immediate access to the mines and rescue the miners as soon as possible,” she said.

Early on Thursday morning, six special forces divers joined the rescue operations, General Agustin Radilla said. There has been no update on their findings as of yet, however.
“They say the water is rising…I want my husband to come out all right,” said the wife of one trapped miner, Erika Escobedo, to Reuters.

She told the news agency that she had spent “all night watching rescue efforts at the site.”
Governor Miguel Riquelme, of Coahuila and Zaragoza state, traveled on Thursday to the municipality of Sabinas where the mine is located.

“Five water extraction pumps totaling 150 horsepower are currently working and other submersible pumps are being installed, which are being sent by companies in the region and thus continue with the rescue efforts,” he wrote on Twitter.

Sabinas is no stranger to mining tragedies. In 2006, an explosion in a local mine killed 65 people. In 2011, 14 miners were trapped and confirmed dead following another mine blast in Sabinas.

According a statement released by Mexico’s Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare, the mine where the ten are currently trapped only began operations in January, and “does not have a history of complaints for any type of anomaly.”

In his daily press briefing on Thursday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said any investigation into the mine would come only after the rescue operation had concluded.

“Those responsible, the permits, the inspections, everything, all of that, we are leaving until after. We already have the basic information,” he said.

“But let’s not talk about that now, let’s look to save the miners.”

Reporting contributed by Daniela Gonzalez-Roman in New York City and Karol Suarez in Mexico City. Previous reporting by Gustavo Valdes and Marlon Sorto.

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