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  • Search and rescue teams work to rescue Bolivian workers trapped in a mine in Tocopilla, Chile, June 14, 2019

    Search and rescue teams work to rescue Bolivian workers trapped in a mine in Tocopilla, Chile, June 14, 2019 | Photo: Gobierno Regional de Antofagast via Reuters

Published 15 June 2019

Bolivian President Evo Morales reports that one of the three missing Bolivian miners trapped in a Chilean mine was found alive, another dead, and one remains missing.

After a 36 hour rescue effort, only one of the three male Bolivian workers trapped in a northern Chilean mine since Thursday has been found alive, while another was found dead. One miner is still missing and rescue workers continue to search for him.

Leonardo Condori, 57, was found alive in the mine, located in the Antofogasta region, as reported by Bolivian President Evo Morales Saturday morning via Twitter. Authorities haven't confirmed which of the other two who had been missing since Thursday—Lenin Veinzaga or Salomon Veinzaga, age 19—was found deceased at the site.

We received information from #Chile that unfortunately confirms the death of one of our mining brothers. We send our condolences and solidarity to your family. The Government will immediately provide everything necessary for the repatriation of his mortal remains.

On the other hand, it was confirmed that our compatriot Leonardo Condori was found alive. We are hopeful that the 3rd missing will be found safe and sound and will return soon to his family. We appreciate the effort that the brother government of Chile is making during this emergency.

Condori, Veinzaga and Veinzaga, all three Bolivian miners, had been trapped in duct in the northern Chilean mine since Thursday afternoon.​​​​​​​ Bolivian President Evo Morales had expressed appreciation to Chilean government and rescue teams for their immediate work to bring the miners back to safety.

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“Dismayed by the three compatriots trapped in the San Jose de Tocopilla mine in #Chile. Very grateful to the Chilean authorities and their president @sebastianpinera who are working to free them. We are willing to collaborate in whatever is needed,” tweeted President Morales Friday afternoon.

That day, Evo sent a group of delegates to neighboring Chile to coordinate with authorities there “for the most ... prompt and immediate … rescue of our fellow citizens," Deputy Minister of Consular Management Raul Castro told local media.

Perfil newspaper says a family member of one of the trapped miners alerted the local fire department their family member was missing Thursday afternoon. "At 4:00 p.m., three people of Bolivian nationality entered (the mine) to repair ventilation pipes ... and did not return from the site," Tocopilla Police Capt. David Cortes told local Chilean media Friday.

The Chilean rescue team, which includes members of its National Service of Geology and Mining (Sernageomin), says the group first tried to blow up the stone covering the mine’s entrance in order to save the miners, but that made the situation worse.

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Marco Antonio Diaz, mayor of Antofagasta, told La Tercera media that the teams had begun “Plan B, … using mini loaders … to remove lighter material little by little.”

The miners were trapped some 70 meters below the ground’s surface, but had been communicating with rescue officials using codes made by hitting pipes that carry sounds to the surface.

Sernageomin officials say they inspected this operational mine about six weeks ago, but had recommended to the owners a “series of improvements” that needed to be made to the mine to maintain its optimum safety, reports Chilean Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica.

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