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Five dead, nine missing in Mexican mine explosion

WITH five workers now confirmed killed in an explosion on Tuesday in Mexico, little hope is being held for the remaining nine individuals still missing, officials said Wednesday.

Donna Schmidt
Five dead, nine missing in Mexican mine explosion

Five bodies have now been recovered from the small mine owned by BIMSA located in San Juan de Sabinas in the state of Coahuila near the Texas border.

According to the Associated Press and CNN, the explosion – caused by an inundation of gas – was so strong at the vertical-shaft mine that a 15-year-old boy working on a conveyor belt outside the pit was seriously injured in the blast.

He was transported to a hospital, where both of his arms were amputated.

It was that event, labor secretary Javier Lozano told the news service, which left him with little faith that anyone inside would have survived.

"The outlook is very bad," he said.

"The truth is that it does not allow us to hold out much hope."

Lozano said Mexico had asked Chile for help, and four experts were expected to arrive from the country shortly in hopes that the mine would have an ending like that of last year’s 33 South American miners trapped for 69 days underground.

However, a team of four rescuers entered the mine once it was declared safe and found the bodies of three workers near the front face, the AP reported, and mine employees later found two more bodies.

All of those killed were located late Tuesday and early Wednesday local time.

The identities of those lost were quickly confirmed by Twitter, CNN noted, after Lozano reported that miners Julio Cesar Resendiz Dominguez, Mario Alberto Anguiano Montes, Leobardo Sanchez Santos, Isaias Valero Perez and Juan Carlos Escobedo Chavez had been killed.

He also said the mine, at the bottom of a 197-foot (60 meter) shaft, had only been in operation for 20 days, and had 25 non-unionized workers.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said in a public statement late Tuesday the country’s government "will do everything in its power to help state and local authorities rescue the rest of the trapped miners."

The national mine workers' union criticized the industry as a whole as well as the fact that the crew was not unionized, telling the AP it condemned "the totally unsafe conditions in which coal mines in Mexico, and especially in this region known as the coal belt, operate".

Sabinas is in the heart of Mexico’s coal-producing region. The mine is one of many small operations supported in part by the Mexican state and produces coal for power generation.

The country’s worst-ever mining accident occurred in 2006, when 65 workers died in an explosion at Grupo Mexico's Pasta de Conchos coal mine.

Victims’ families are still pushing for efforts to recover 63 bodies still encased in the operation.

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