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News > Peru

Four Peruvian Coal Miners Rescued After Four Days Undergound

  • Rescue workers help free Peruvian coal miner after a mine shaft collapsed last week leaving four workers trapped for four days. They were rescued on Feb. 3

    Rescue workers help free Peruvian coal miner after a mine shaft collapsed last week leaving four workers trapped for four days. They were rescued on Feb. 3 | Photo: @MemPeru

Published 5 February 2019

The families of the rescued say the Lima-based mine company, Ocimic, did little to help with rescue efforts but fellow workers insisted on keeping up the search.

Four miners in Peru are in stable condition in a hospital north of Lima after being trapped for more than 90 hours one kilometer underground after the mine they were working in collapsed from a landslide.

During their four days of being trapped in the Pampahuay coal mine owned by the Lima-based mine company, Civil Projects and Mines (Ocimic), the miners only received small amounts of water and oxygen through a hose. On Sunday night, the mine workers were finally rescued, found dehydrated and intoxicated by malicious gases. Relatives of the victims say that Ocimic hardly offered rescue help and did not provide safe working conditions.

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Jhonas Cuenca Canchari (34), one of four miners told reporters, "We have managed to get out thank God."

Jhonas told reporters that he kept repeating to himself in the mine: "If (the rescue) isn’t today, it's tomorrow," because he kept faith that he would be reunited with his wife and two children.

Canchari’s wife Rosa said that it was the miners' colleagues who kept the search going rather than the coal mining company, who seemed relatively absent only offering Rosa a cup of coffee during the four days she spent at the entrance of the mine. Peruvian state rescuers were mainly to credit for the rescue efforts.

"My husband had been working there for three years. ... (We always felt that) at any moment this collapse could happen," said Rosa Canchari.

On Feb. the workers were finally pulled out of the mine, their faces and clothes covered with coal, says local media.

Rosalia Palacios Rojas, sister-in-law of Abraham Reynalte Araujo (39), one of the rescued coal miners said the mining company essentially abandoned the workers and their families during this difficult time. "Where is the mine owner of the mine? He did not think about them when they were suffering," said Rojas to journalists.

"I was scared and nervous. I can’t remember much. We were locked in a space 15 meters long and 250 wide. In desperation we looked for gaps to go out, but there weren’t any. Then we tried to calm down. When we could hear the machine we realized they were working to rescue us and didn’t lose faith," said Araujo.

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"Thank you, my God, for allowing us to see our relatives again," exclaimed Iván Vega Mayta (36), one of the rescued miners said as he hugged his wife who had also camped out in front of the mine during the 90 hours her husband was trapped inside.

"The situation is critical. We want the company to become aware of what has happened so that this does not happen again. It's the only thing we ask for. That they attend to them as they deserve," said a relative of Vega Mayta.

The miners were first taken to the Regional Hospital of Huacho and then transferred to the San Pedro clinic where Ocimic has a contract.

The regional director of Energy and Mines, Cornelio Ramos Alania said that the Pampahuay mine was classified as a small mine in 2015.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) said that it will propose legislative measures to better control and regulate small-scale mining that has a history of operating below safety standards.

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