SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet sent on Friday a new message of support for the two miners who have been trapped underground for eight days, ever since the flooding of the gold mine in southern Chile where they were working.
“All united, we Chileans will continue working without rest to find our miners in Chile Chico. They are not alone,” the president posted on her Twitter account.
At a public event several days ago, Bachelet first expressed her solidarity with the family and friends of the workers, while promising that her government would make every possible effort to help rescue them.
Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy decreed a state of exception starting this Friday in the Chile Chico municipality where the mine is located, some 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) from Santiago.
Enrique Ojeda, 34, and Jorge Sanchez, 25, were trapped in the Delia 2 Mine, and since then rescuers have principally focused on pumping out the water that flooded into the mine from a nearby lake, though the heavy snows currently affecting the region have complicated their work.
No means have been found to successfully contact the workers.
Meanwhile, former Mining Minister Laurence Golborne, an important figure in the rescue of 33 miners at Atacama, said in a letter published in the daily El Mercurio not to compare the Chile Chico accident with what happened in 2010 in northern Chile.
“Beyond the similarities that exist in the two cases, I don’t think it’s right to compare these events, and even less to politicize this human drama and the pain that those affected and their families are feeling,” he said.
Golborne added that “instead of making comparisons, what we should repeat is the sense of unity and make it stronger than ever. It’s not the time to look for guilty parties or put the blame on others.”
The miners were working last Friday in a gallery at about 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) from the entrance to the Delia 2 Mine, at a depth of some 250 meters, when a wall collapsed and the mine was flooded.
The miners are hoped to have reached a refuge equipped with sufficient elements to assure their survival for two weeks.
In September 2016, another accident struck the mine when an accidental dynamite explosion left one miner dead and two injured.