MAC: Mines and Communities

Dead:Four miners trapped in a collapsed Ecuador mine

Published by MAC on 2010-10-18
Source: AFP

QUITO - Four miners were trapped underground after part of a silver and gold mine collapsed Friday in southwestern Ecuador near the border with Peru, government officials said.

A civil defense official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that the miners were believed to be alive because they were located in an area far enough away from the collapse, though rescuers have been unable to contact them.

Rescue workers were already trying to identify the best approach to rescue the men, whose accident in the mine near the Ecuadoran town of Portovelo comes after the successful rescue this week of 33 miners trapped for almost 70 days in Chile's San Jose mine.

"Four miners are trapped at the fifth level of the mine, roughly 150 meters (500 feet) down," the source told AFP.

The miners were trapped after a collapse at 3:00 am local time (0800 GMT) on Friday, the source said.

Deputy Mining Minister Jorge Espinosa later identified the men as a senior mine official, his brother who is a machine operator, and two laborers.

"It seems there was an increase in the amount of underground water," Espinosa told reporters, causing some of the gallery supports to buckle and "blocking any chance for an exit."

Espinosa added that officials still do not know the condition of the miners.

The miners are believed to be inside a galley 60 meters (200 feet) long, two meters (6.5 feet) high and 2.5 meters (eight feet) wide. The air and water shafts leading to the gallery are blocked, according to local press reports.

The mine, located 405 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Quito, is owned by the local company Minesadco. Some 50 people work at the site.

Last missing Ecuadorean miners found dead

Gary Granja


12 October 2010

PORTOVELO, Ecuador - Rescue workers found the last two corpses on Wednesday of four Ecuadorean miners killed by a cave-in at a remote gold mine six days ago.

Gloom among rescuers and relatives at the mine in Ecuador contrasted with last week's jubilation in Chile, where 33 workers were rescued after more than two months underground.

Two of the Ecuadorean miners were found dead on Saturday at the mine in Portovelo, near the border with Peru, where a tunnel collapsed 500 feet (150 metres) underground on Friday.

Despite hopes the remaining pair could be alive, they were both found dead late on Wednesday, mining officials said.

"We've done everything humanly possible," Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said at the site.

Some 150 rescue workers had been searching the "Black House" mine run by Minesadco, a local company.

In Chile, the 33 miners survived for two weeks on limited rations until rescuers made contact. Their rescue, watched live on TV, triggered euphoria around the world.

It also put a spotlight on mining safety in Latin America, where there are still many accidents, although standards have improved dramatically in recent decades compared to the nightmarish conditions of past centuries.

One of the worst accidents in recent times took place in Colombia in June, when more than 70 miners died after a gas explosion at a coal mine.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia and Santiago Silva; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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