A major operation to rescue 10 trapped Mexican miners was approaching a pivotal moment on Saturday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, raising hopes among desperate relatives.
“Today is a decisive day because according to the experts we will know if it is possible for the divers to enter safely,” he tweeted.
Five workers managed to escape from the rough-built mine on Wednesday in the initial aftermath of the accident, but no survivors have been found since.
Authorities said the three mine shafts have descended 60 meters (200 feet) and on Friday it was reported that the floodwaters were within 100 feet (30 meters).
The Coahuila state government said the miners were digging when they hit an adjacent area full of water.
Experts have discovered a leak originating from nearby mines and are trying to pinpoint the exact location so they can prevent the water from flowing to the area where the workers are trapped, said Coahuila’s labor secretary, Nazira Zogbi.
The advent of more powerful pumping equipment was also cause for optimism, Zogbi added.
Water from the mine was seen flowing through drainage channels, raising hopes of relatives who anxiously awaited news a third night.
“We still hope they are in a higher part (of the mine), although there is too much water… but we trust God,” added the 71-year-old.
Last year, seven miners died while trapped in the region.
After that tragedy, only two bodies were recovered.
“When everything is fine, you don’t think about the danger, but when something happens, you think about stopping,” said Luis Armando Ontiveros.
The father of three said he needed the monthly salary of about $500 to pay for his children’s education so that they don’t have to follow in his footsteps.
Originally published as ‘Decisive Day’ for Incarcerated Mexican Miners