Chile rescuers unsure of trapped miner location

Rescuers frantically removed soil to free a worker trapped underground in a northern Chilean copper mine, but admitted Tuesday they were unsure in what part of the mine the man had taken refuge.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 27 Mar 2013, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:12 PM

The worker, identified as Mario Lopez, 42, was trapped early Monday in the Victoria mine, located near Vallenar, a city some 600 kilometers north of the capital Santiago.

The case echoes the August 2010 accident that trapped 33 men in a mine 600 meters below the surface also in northern Chile.

Those miners were rescued after 69 days underground in a dramatic operation covered on live TV and broadcast around the world.

Police said that they knew that Lopez was alive because he used a hammer to bang on metal tubes running though the mine shaft. The rescuers responded likewise, signaling that help was on the way.

Officials at the Office of National Emergencies (ONEMI) told AFP Tuesday that rescue workers were waiting for a geophone, an electronic receiver that picks up seismic vibrations, to pinpoint Lopez.

On Monday officials said that Lopez was trapped 300 meters underground, but on Tuesday they acknowledged they were unsure where he was, or how long the rescue will take.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that Lopez was 100 meters underground, but did not say whether that meant the rescuers had advanced 200 meters.

‘Our hope is to pull him out safe and sound, if God helps us, because he was trapped 100 meters underground and with a lot of rocks in between,’ Pinera told local reporters.

Pinera said that the rescuers were carrying out ‘a tremendous effort, just like we did with the 33 in Atacama, and we expect that today he will see his family again.’

In the August 2010 accident, rescuers were also initially unsure where the trapped miners were located.

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