One year after the mining accident at El Pinabete, in Sabinas, Coahuila, relatives of the victims are demanding the recovery of the 10 remaining bodies of the trapped miners, as the government remains unable to access them.
On August 3, 2022, 15 miners were working at a depth of 60m when the walls of the tunnels collapsed, flooding the three pits at El Pinabete in Sabinas, Coahuila. Since then, authorities have been trying to rescue the miners, whose health status remains unknown. At the time of the accident, five of the 15 mine workers managed to escape.
Relatives of the victims have complained about the lack of transparency and the lack of progress in the authorities’ efforts. The government, however, explained that it has not been able to rescue the miners because the water levels in the wells rose significantly. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had stated that before August, the bodies of the miners who were trapped at the El Pinabete mine would be rescued.
El Pinabete is one of numerous small-scale coal mines in Coahuila that supply state-owned CFE, according to Reuters. Following the accident, Interpol issued a red alert on the company's primary stakeholder, Luis Rafael García, who was detained on May 25, 2023. Cristian Sols, the site foreman, was also arrested in September 2022. However, authorities have been unable to arrest the mine's co-owner, Arnulfo Garza Cárdenas.
According to experts, such accidents are not unusual in Mexico's coal industry. Examples also include the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion in 2006, which killed 65 people, and the recent accident that killed two miners that were descending into a pit in Mezquita, Coahuila.
This type of accident has brought safety issues to the public eye. Even though mining is one of the most regulated industries in Mexico and has the lowest incident rate (1.01), CAMIMEX has been developing further measures to address accidents. Karen Flores, Director General, CAMIMEX, said that projects aiming to become open-pit mines must first follow the recommendations set in the Official Mexican Norm (NOM) 032, which regulates the operations of underground coal mines. By following the regulation by the book, companies can already reduce the risk of accidents, significantly.