Mexico will resume the search for the bodies of the miners who died on the tragic Pasta de Conchos accident

The victims’ families argue that Grupo Mexico canceled the rescue because the deplorable working and security conditions will become evident

Mexico will resume the search for the bodies of the miners who died on the tragic Pasta de Conchos accident
The rescue mission will be resumed 14 years after the tragic events - Photo: Francisco Rodríguez/EL UNIVERSAL
English 20/02/2020 15:09 Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English Mexico City Reuters Actualizada 15:21

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The Mexican government announced it will resume the search for the bodies of dozens of coal miners killed in a blast on February 19, 2006, after mining company Grupo Mexico returned the concession of Pasta de Conchos to the government.

In order to make the rescue operation easier, the mining company allegedly decided to step aside and return the concession to the Mexican government. The company insists it was a voluntary decision.

Yesterday, 14 years after the accident, Labor Minister Luisa María Alcalde told a news conference that experts have identified a new route to enter the Pasta de Conchos mine and plan to resume the search in October.

She also said experts had determined that levels of water and gas in the mine had decreased, which would allow workers to search the site safely.

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According to human rights group Centro Prodh, the miners were working in deplorable security conditions. Additionally, security issues had been reported since 2000, six years before the tragic event. In 2004, authorities registered 43 violations of security and hygiene norms, many of which were urgent. In a controversial move, the mining company hired the same company in charge of security and hygiene to rescue the bodies but later canceled the operation.

The victims’ families argue that Grupo Mexico canceled the rescue because the deplorable working and security conditions will become evident

In 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights sided with the family and pointed at a series of irregularities.

Grupo México expresses its wish that the efforts undertaken by the government are successful and translate into peace for the families,” the company said in a statement.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged to recover the bodies last year, but the firm’s chief executive warned that past efforts to find the bodies of miners killed in the blast had been risky. The Mexican President previously described the rescue mission as a humanitarian promise made to victims’ families.

In 2006, 65 miners were killed in a mine explosion when methane gas caused the collapse of the mine in the northern state of Coahuila. Only two bodies were recovered.

Years ago, investigators determined that it was possible that many of the miners were incinerated as the explosion sent temperatures soaring to 593° C.

Grupo Mexico, which operated the mine, has maintained that it was an unfortunate accident and that the firm had compensated families.

A special prosecutor for the case blamed Grupo Mexico for allowing a deadly mix of methane, heat, and oxygen to build up in the mine, failing to build proper ventilation shafts or to neutralize explosive coal dust. Government inspectors who failed to enforce the necessary safety precautions were also implicated in the case.

Grupo Mexico is also involved in other tragic cases, including the pollution of the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers, which has caused kidney failure and other serious health issues among the population.

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