[QODLink]
Americas
Rescuers rush to save Chile miners
At least 34 people trapped in collapsed mine near Copiapo city in the Atacama desert.
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2010 00:07 GMT
Authorities said 130 rescue workers had been dispatched to try to save the trapped miners [AFP]

Rescuers have intensified efforts to reach at least 34 people trapped by a mine collapsed in northern Chile.

Officials said on Friday that they had not yet been able to establish contact with those trapped in the San Esteban mine, near the city of Copiapo in the Atacama desert, and the miners' conditions remain unknown.

The copper and gold mine, located about 800km north of the capital Santiago, collapsed on Thursday.

Chile's National Emergency Office said around 130 rescue workers have been deployed to try to help the miners.

It said the mine workers were thought to be at a depth of about 450 metres, adding that it was possible they had managed to reach an underground shelter, which contains three days worth of food, water and oxygen.

Camila Merino, Chile's labour minister, joined rescue workers and relatives of the miners at the scene of the collapse on Friday.

She said due to the blockages caused by the collapse, rescue workers were trying to access the mine through ventilation shafts.

"We must work very carefully because if we create a new collapse it will put rescuers at risk and harm the ability to get people out quickly", she said.

'History of accidents'

Major mining accidents are not frequent in Chile because of tight government controls.

Compania Minera San Esteban Primera, the mine owner, said it was unclear what caused the collapse, but insisted that all necessary precautions had been taken.

Felix Medina, a local union representative, however, told the Reuters news agency that the San Esteban mine had a history of accidents, with at least 13 deaths on site recently.

"This is an area with a lot of mining activity but the authorities don't have the resources for proper supervision," he said.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.