QUITO – Four workers are trapped some 150 meters (490 feet) deep in a mine located in southern Ecuador as rescue work continues, Deputy Mining Minister Jorge Espinosa said.
“No, there’s absolutely no sign of them,” said Espinosa, adding that at the moment “nothing can be established about what state the miners are in.”
He said that rescue work was being carried out on two fronts to try and reach the place where the miners are thought to be, after being trapped behind a cave-in deep inside the mine, located in the Portovelo area of El Oro province on the Peruvian border.
“We continue working, we’re going as fast as we can considering how dangerous it is clearing away the place where the mineshaft collapsed,” the authority said.
According to Espinosa, “we have to take additional precautions to safeguard the rescuers. We’re doing the best we can, we have mechanized part of the work to make quicker progress, but we still can’t predict anything.”
The deputy minister said that possibly around midday Saturday they might have easier access to the site of the collapse, which will permit a better assessment of “how much time it will take to reach the place where supposedly the miners should be.”
Espinosa said that the lack of rain in the area has aided the rescue effort, though he recalled that “the work isn’t being done on the surface but at a depth of 150 meters (490 feet), where the accident occurred.”
The national emergency management office said that the cave-in occurred Friday morning and that the trapped miners have been identified as Walter and Angel Vera, Paul Aguirre and Pedro Mendoza.