Rescuers in contact with trapped miners in Peru

April 9, 2012

Nine miners became trapped in a copper mine in Peru 280 km (175 miles) southeast of Lima on April 5. The miners survived the collapse that followed a blast, but it may take two or three more days to rescue the men trapped in an informal copper mine, Peru's prime minister said, as rescuers supplied the men with liquid sustenance through a hose, The Associated Press reported that.

Dozens of rescue workers have been using pickaxes and shovels to try to remove the 8 m (26 ft ) of collapsed earth and rock blocking the entrance of the mine.

Local police chief, Jose Saavedra, told The Associated Press that several tons of earth and rock have already been removed from the tunnel’s mouth, but Mining Minister Jorge Merino appealed for mining companies to provide heavy equipment and experts to speed up the effort.
On April 8, miners arrived from two nearby mines to help dig out the workers.

Through a hose, rescuers have been able to communicate with the men and send them liquids.

Prime Minister Oscar Valdes, who said that he had spoken to the miners, told reporters that he estimated it would take to three days to free the men. The miners’ health appears to be fine.

Officials worry, however, that some could suffer from exposure.

“They’re being subjected to a lot of cold. The temperature is low because of the humidity,” Valdes said.

The appearance of Valdes and Merino at the Cabeza de Negro mine 1,347 m (4,400 ft) above sea level highlighted what some consider the government’s lack of preparation for such an accident.

Peru “doesn't have a specialize team for mining rescues,” said Jose de Echave, a former deputy environment minister.

Mining is the main engine of Peru's economy, accounting for more than 60 percent of its exports. It is the world's No. 2 copper exporter after neighboring Chile and ranks sixth in gold exports.

According to official figures, 52 miners died in Peru last year in work-related accidents, a third of them in mine shaft collapses.

 

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