Toll climbs to five in Mexico mine blast | world | Hindustan Times
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Toll climbs to five in Mexico mine blast

Officials said on Wednesday they have recovered bodies of five miners after an explosion in a northern Mexico coal mine, and said hope was fading that any of the nine workers still missing in the disaster would be found alive.

world Updated: May 05, 2011 11:23 IST

Officials said on Wednesday they have recovered bodies of five miners after an explosion in a northern Mexico coal mine, and said hope was fading that any of the nine workers still missing in the disaster would be found alive.

"There are no signs of life," said Labor Secretary Javier Lozano, speaking to Mexico's Televisa television network. "The outlook is bad."

Officials said a gas explosion likely sparked the blast that caused the deadly cave-in.

Rescuers have been working around the clock to dig out the miners after the explosion at 8:00 am (1300 GMT) Tuesday trapped the men some 50 meters (150 feet) underground on the site in Coahuila state, near the US border.

High levels of methane prevented rescuers from entering the mine for several hours, until mid-afternoon.

The state prosecutor's office said a 14-year-old boy working outside the mine near the entrance had had both his arms amputated after being caught in the explosion.

Anxious relatives gathered around the opening of the mine shortly after the blast, waiting to learn about the fate of their loved ones.

"The families are very desperate. We understand them, but it's quite dangerous to enter the mine due to levels of methane present," said Mayor Jesus Maria Montemayor, of the nearby town of Sabinas.

Civil protection workers, miners and soldiers were working to try to locate the group trapped inside the mine, which is in the same area where 65 miners died in a similar accident in 2006.

The area around the mine, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the US border, was cordoned off, and the injured teenager had been evacuated to the state capital of Saltillo, Montemayor said.

President Felipe Calderon said he had ordered "everything in our power to be done to rescue" the miners.

"We'll pray that they're alive," Calderon said during a visit to central Mexico.

A 2006 explosion in the Pasta de Conchos mine, also near Sabinas, killed 65 miners. Most of those bodies have still not been recovered.

Mexico's miners, metalworkers and steelworkers union on Tuesday urged the government to take stronger action against companies who do not take sufficient safety measures on their sites.

Meanwhile, Lozano said he was awaiting the arrival Wednesday of a team of experts from Chile who were to provide Mexico technical advice in freeing the trapped men.

Authorities from Chile are seen as expert in responding to mine cave-ins after succeeding last October in freeing 33 miners who had been trapped for 69 days, in a saga which became a worldwide cause celebre.