Efforts to rescue nine miners from a collapsed copper mine could take up to three more days, the Peruvian Prime Minister said last night.
Oscar Valdes told reporters he had spoken to the miners, who are trapped in a collapsed mountainside shaft 175 miles southeast of Lima, adding that their health appears to be fine despite “being subjected to a lot of cold”.
Valdes said “The temperature is low because of the humidity", revealing the miners are communicating with rescuers, and being provided with liquid, via a hosepipe.
26 feet of earth and rock is blocking the entrance to the horizontal mine shaft, which collapsed last Thursday after an explosion thought to have been set by the miners themselves.
The mine was last commercially used in the 1980s.
Local police chief, Jose Saavedra said several tonnes of rubble have already been removed from the tunnel's entrance by dozens of rescuers using pickaxes, shovels and crude wooden beams.
Last night, miners from two nearby mines arrived to speed up the rescue, but Mining Minister Jorge Merino appealed for companies to send heavy equipment and experts.
The collapse has heightened concerns about mining safety in Peru.
Former Deputy Environment Minister said Peru doesn’t have a specialised team for mining rescue, despite the industry accounting for 60 per cent of its exports.
Peru is the world’s second biggest copper exporter, and ranks sixth in exports of gold.
According to official figures, 52 miners died in work-related accidents in Peru last year. A third of them died in mine shaft collapses.