SANTIAGO – The rescue operation will continue at the gold mine in northern Chile where two miners have been trapped since June 9 despite indications from a probe that the entire mine is flooded, Mining Minister Aurora Williams said on Sunday.
“The order we have from President Michelle Bachelet since day one is to analyze the situation to continue making progress. All information has been released in a responsible manner,” Williams told reporters.
Brig. Gen. Fernando San Cristobal, who is in charge of the rescue operation, said on Saturday that the mine was “completely flooded.”
The area where Enrique Ojeda, 34, and Jorge Sanchez, 25, took shelter “is not hermetic,” the general told reporters on Saturday.
The miners were working in a shaft about 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) from the Delia 2 mine’s entrance and at a depth of some 250 meters when a wall collapsed and the mine flooded.
Rescuers hoped the miners had reached a refuge equipped with sufficient gear to ensure their survival for two weeks.
Chile Chico Mayor Ricardo Ibarra acknowledged that there “is a 99 percent chance that the (miners) are not alive, something that the union leaders I spoke with also said.”
Since the accident, rescuers have focused on pumping out the water that entered the mine from a nearby lake, though the heavy snows affecting the region have complicated the operation.
In September 2016, an accidental dynamite explosion killed a miner and injured two others at Delia 2.