The families of the 10 miners trapped underground in Mexico since early August have rejected a new rescue strategy proposed by the government, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Friday.
The proposal, which involved digging underground tunnels, was rejected because of the length of time it would take, Lopez Obrador said.
The El Pinabete mine in Coahuila, Mexico, collapsed on August 3. Rescuers were able to extract five people, but ten remain trapped in wells that have flooded.
There have been no known signs of life or contact with the missing miners since then.
Obrador said he wanted the victims’ families to be involved in the rescue strategy, as decisions were made more than three weeks into the saga. “I asked (the rescuers) to inform the families, and… they didn’t agree. It’s not that they don’t want them to save their loved ones; it feels long to them,” Lopez Obrador said Friday.
When asked if the families had been compensated by the government, Lopez Obrador did not deny the possibility of a payment.
“Now the most important thing is the rescue. Of course there is compensation, but that is not the point,” he said.
Lopez Obrador added that efforts to save the miners and compensation for their families are both on the table. “We are looking for which option is the best. And the instruction is that we don’t give up,” he said.
On Monday, Mexico’s civil protection coordinator Laura Velazquez said the water depth in the mine’s multiple flooded shafts was high, measuring up to 31 meters (101 feet).
Efforts by responders to drain the mine had helped reduce water levels overall – until a rupture at a nearby mine caused the water to back up.
“Unfortunately, we were still unable to rescue the miners…progress was already underway, but the bad luck was that another hole opened up in the nearby mine, which was flooded, and the level water rose again,” Lopez Obrador said at the time.