11 August, 202210 workers remain trapped underground following a mine collapse on 3 August in the municipality of Sabinas, in Coahuila, northern Mexico.
The mine workers were excavating with hand tools in a 60-metre-deep shaft in the Coahuila coalmine when the walls caved in, causing a 34-metre flood in three connected shafts, and trapping 10 mine workers.
Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel Lopes Obrador, said at a press conference on 9 August that the federal government had been working since the date of the collapse to rescue the workers trapped in the mine and that divers could be brought in to rescue in the coming hours. He reported that while 10 miners remained trapped, five workers who were rescued received medical attention.
The president gave assurances that he was acting in coordination with the Coahuila state government and the municipal authorities. He stressed that power plants had been installed at strategic points to access the mines, and pumps had been placed in each of the shafts to extract as much water as possible, to ensure immediate access to the mines and to rescue the workers as quickly as possible.
He also said that investigations into the incident were underway, and that information had already been gathered on who manages the mines, holds the permits, conducts the inspections, and sells the coal.
Meanwhile, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, a Mexican senator and general secretary of the IndustriALL-affiliated Los Mineros union, said that the labour authorities were failing to meet their obligation to inspect or supervise employers in the coal sector, which explains why such tragedies are so frequent.
Urrutia also explained that although he had pressed the Senate of the Republic to approve the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 176, which obliges companies to guarantee health and safety in mines, its ratification has been pending since 1995.
This is not the first time such an incident has occurred in Mexico’s mining sector. Sixty-three men are still buried at the bottom of a coal mine that exploded 16 years ago in Pasta de Conchos, also in Coahuila. Sixty-five miners died in the incident.
IndustriALL general secretary, Atle Høie, deplored the incident, and said:
“We urge the Mexican government to continue the efforts to get the workers out alive, to investigate the collapse and to hold those responsible to account, to ratify ILO Convention 176 and to ensure proper inspections of coal mining companies.”