A major operation to rescue 10 trapped Mexican coal miners was approaching a crucial moment on Saturday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, raising the hopes of desperate relatives.
“Today is a decisive day because, according to the experts, we’ll know if it’s possible for the divers to enter safely,” he tweeted.
Five workers managed to escape from the crudely constructed mine in the initial aftermath of the accident on Wednesday, but since then no survivors have been found.
Authorities said that the three mine shafts descended 60 meters (200 feet) and on Friday the floodwater inside was reported to be 30 meters deep.
Coahuila’s state government said the miners had been carrying out excavation work when they hit an adjoining area full of water.
Experts detected a leak coming from nearby mines and aim to find its exact location so they can stop water flowing into the area where the workers are trapped, Coahuila’s labor secretary, Nazira Zogbi, said.
The arrival of more powerful pumping equipment was also a reason for optimism, Zogbi added.
Water was seen flowing from the mine through drainage channels, lifting the hopes of relatives who spent a third night waiting anxiously for news.
“We’re still hoping that they’re in a higher part (of the mine), although there’s too much water… but we trust in God,” the 71-year-old added.
Last year, seven miners died when they were trapped in the region.
Only two bodies were retrieved after that tragedy.
“When everything’s fine, you don’t think about the danger, but when things happen you think about quitting,” said Luis Armando Ontiveros.
The father-of-three said he needed the monthly salary equivalent to about $500 to pay for his children’s education so they do not have to follow in his footsteps.
Originally published as ‘Decisive day’ for trapped Mexican miners