Mexican officials say close to accessing trapped miners
Friends and relatives hold a candlelit vigil for the trapped miners Pedro PARDO AFP

Mexican authorities said on Friday they are in a position to enter the flooded coal mine where 10 workers have been trapped for more than a week.

"We have all the conditions to go down there today... to search for and rescue" the miners, said Laura Velazquez, the civil defense national coordinator, during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's morning press conference.

Velazquez said the rescue operation will become possible once "97 percent of the water" has been extracted from the 50-meter deep mine in the town of Agujita in the northern Coahuila state.

"The necessary resources for the search and rescue have been prepared," she added.

The water level in one of the three wells in which rescuers will try to enter has been brought down to just 70 centimeters (27 inches), from a high of 30 meters (98 feet) the day after the accident that flooded the mine, Defense Minister Luis Cresensio Sandoval said.

The other two wells still have 3.9 and 4.7 meters of water.

Authorities consider 1.5 meters to be an acceptable water level to gain access to the crudely constructed El Pinabete mine.

"In any case, we're going to continue pumping.... The process is slow but we don't want to take any risks," added Velazquez.

Since the August 3 accident, there have been no signs of life from the 10 miners trapped inside.

Five miners managed to escape following the initial accident, in which workers carrying out excavation activities hit an adjoining area full of water.

Several hundred rescuers, including soldiers and military scuba divers, are taking part in efforts to save the miners, whose relatives held a vigil Thursday night for those trapped underground.

© 2022 AFP