Searchers Drill to Locate Men Missing in Southern Chile Mine

SANTIAGO (Reuters) —

Chilean authorities began a fresh drill on Thursday to try to locate two miners who went missing a week ago when the mine in which they were working was flooded.

A landslide on Friday at a section of the Delia mine, part of Canadian-listed Mandalay Resources’ Cerro Bayo gold and silver complex in Chile’s southern Aysen region, sparked the flooding from a nearby lake.

The two missing miners have been identified as Enrique Ojeda and Jorge Sanchez. Authorities have not made contact with them and do not know if they were killed or survived by reaching an emergency shelter, which is located some 220 yards underground and around 50 meters from the site of the landslide.

The events recall the 2010 mining accident in Copiapo, northern Chile, when 33 miners made world headlines after they survived in an emergency shelter for nearly 10 weeks before being rescued.

Snowfall in recent days has complicated the rescue effort, authorities said.

“The government has deployed a large team of experts in drilling, water handling, search and security that is working 24 hours,” said Mining Minister Aurora Williams, after visiting the site and meeting with the families of the missing miners on Wednesday.

Efforts are focused on diverting the water and trying to make contact with the shelter.

Felipe Matthews, a government geologist who was part of the team that took part in the 2010 rescue, said the work was technically challenging and the drills attempted so far had diverged from target.

Mandalay said it was “doing everything possible” to locate the two miners.

“The presence of water and disturbed material makes this effort extremely complicated. We will continue to deploy our own resources as well as the resources coming from suppliers, contractors, other mining companies, and government,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

All operations at Cerro Bayo, which produced around 14,000 ounces of gold and 1.7 million ounces of silver in 2016, have been suspended since June 9.

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