The recovery of the bodies of the 10 miners buried last August in the collapse of a coal pit in Sabinas, Coahuila, has once again suffered a delay. The Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has announced this Thursday in his daily conference before the press that the rescue teams hope to reach the corpses in December of this year. The first term that the Government proposed to the relatives of the victims, in August, was from 6 to 11 months. In December, the authorities announced that they were going to start blowing up the mine to open an open pit and thus access the remains. At that time, Civil Protection estimated the work necessary to reach the underground galleries in which the workers are presumed to be in six months.
Lopez Obrador has assured that the rescue contingent, made up of 283 workers, has achieved 37.3% progress in its work. At this time, the work is focused on reducing the water that floods the wells, from which 1,136,566 cubic meters of liquid have already been extracted by means of four pumps. Also with controlled explosions that have allowed reaching a depth of between 20 and 30 meters underground, according to the president. In the calendar that the rescuers manage, it is expected that in July, almost a year after the collapse, the first teams will be able to access the underground galleries where the miners were trapped. The work to exhume the 10 corpses will continue for another five months after that, according to the estimates presented by the president.
The leader also spoke in the morning about Pasta de Conchos, another mining accident that occurred in 2006 in which 65 miners died in a gas explosion and 63 of the bodies were left underground. Lopez Obrador has maintained that the recovery work continues in that case as well: “There is still time to go and they are progressing well, we are going to comply, the bodies are going to be rescued. All the previous governments had promised that they would remove the bodies of the miners. What we have done is that all the compensation was paid to the relatives”. Last Sunday, the relatives of the victims held a protest at the headquarters of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in Mexico City on the seventeenth anniversary of the tragedy with the slogan: “We do not want a memorial, we want the bodies of miners”.
On August 3, 2022, the Pinabete well collapsed due to a massive flood caused by millions of liters of water accumulated in the Las Conchas mine, an exploitation abandoned decades ago and completely flooded due to its proximity to the Sabinas River. Although some miners managed to escape, 10 men were trapped in the galleries. A rescue against time began while the families awaited an agonizing wait at the gates of the farm. At the end of that month, Lopez Obrador left the workers for dead. The rescue work became work to recover human remains.
Six months have passed since then, the original estimate the president offered to recover the bodies. Silence reigned for the first four months after the accident, until the explosions to open the pit were announced in December. In all this time, the widows of the 10 miners have faced their own battle: that of obtaining a decent pension that has not yet arrived from the El Pinabete company, which promised to pay them their husbands’ salaries for what least until the rescue was completed, as this newspaper documented. In October the money stopped arriving and the compensation is still to be determined. Now a new time frame to reach the corpses opens up a glimmer of hope.