Mexico City – A landslide at a opal mine in the small western Mexican town of Hostotipaquillo left three miners dead, officials said.
An emergency-management and firefighters' spokesperson in Jalisco state informed Efe Thursday that one of the bodies had been recovered at the Pata de Gallo mine, while the other two men were confirmed dead early Friday.
A spokesman for the municipal Public Safety office told Efe that the accident occurred early Thursday evening.
Authorities had said the tunnel in which the miners were trapped was not very deep but that rescue efforts were delayed by darkness.
Elsewhere, authorities were continuing efforts to recover bodies at a small coal mine in Sabinas, a town in the northern state of Coahuila where an explosion on Tuesday trapped 14 miners.
Rescuers have recovered seven bodies thus far and authorities say there is no chance of finding anyone alive due to conditions inside the mine.
Chile, which last year mounted a dramatic rescue of 33 miners who spent 70 days underground, dispatched a team of experts to Sabinas to advise the Mexican authorities.
The Mexican federal government has said the mine accident in Coahuila was caused by "brutal negligence" by "voracious business leaders" who operate in the area without ensuring even minimum safety conditions.
It added that similar accidents could occur at other of the state's estimated 150 small coal mines, although Gov. Jorge Torres said Thursday he opposes closing all of the artisanal mines, known as "pocitos."
In a statement, Torres said only "those acting outside the law" should be shuttered while "owners who comply with established rules and regulations will be able to continue operating."
The pocitos tend to operate for only a few months before shutting down. In this case, the Sabinas mine had started up within the last three weeks and its owners had not notified authorities of its existence.
Some coal from the pocitos is bought by a Coahuila government agency that sells in turn to other state entities, an arrangement that promotes unsafe mining, Labor Secretary Javier Lozano said earlier this week.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon issued a statement Wednesday expressing "condolences and solidarity" with the families of the trapped miners and announcing that the Attorney General's Office will investigate the accident.
Coahuila was the scene of the worst mining disaster in Mexico's recent history on Feb. 19, 2006, when an explosion at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine killed 65 men.
The bodies were never recovered and the miners' kin, supported by Catholic Bishop Raul Vera, continue to blame the mine owners for negligence. EFE