Peruvian miners await rescue after mine collapse


Thousands of people rally in downtown Lima on February 10, 2012, to protest the Conga mining project in northern Peru. Protestors said mining would have a permanent negative effect on the region's water basins. The government eventually halted the project.


Cris Bouroncle

Nine miners, trapped in a gold and copper mine in southern Peru, might have to wait days before being rescued.

Rescuers are working to evacuate the miners who have been trapped since part of the Cabeza de Negro gold and copper mine collapsed Thursday, Agence France-Presse said.

By Sunday, Peruvian authorities said it might be two to three more days before the miners are rescued and appealed to major mining companies to lend heavy machinery to dig them out.

The Associated Press reported that firefighers and rescue workers have been digging the rubble that blocked the entrace to the horizontal shaft for days.

The miners were trapped about 650 feet - not deep by mining standards - underneath a mountain of rock and sand about 200 miles from Lima.

By Saturday, rescuers thought they were just over six feet from the miners but a series of cave-ins set the operation back and forced the effort to slow the pace.

Chilean miners who captured the world's attention in 2010 when they were trapped underground for more than two months were 2,300 feet underground.  

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Rescuers have been able to establish contact with the miners, however tough terrain has made it harder to free the men.

"We are depressed. Please, get us out of here," begged Jacinto Pariona, one of the trapped miners was heard saying from behind the rubble, reported AFP.

Reuters said the mine was likely operating illegally. Small illegal mines in Peru are common and generate up to $2 billion revenues for the national economy, the news agency reported.

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