Latin America & Caribbean

Chile trapped miner Torres Lopez rescued unharmed

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A Chilean miner has been brought to the surface after spending 52 hours trapped 100m underground in a collapsed mine.

Mario Torres Lopez is said to have emerged unscathed from the Victoria mine, in the northern Atacama region.

Rescue teams found out he was alive when he used a hammer to bang on metal tubes running through the shaft to communicate with them.

Three years ago, 33 miners were rescued from a mine in the same region after being trapped for 69 days.

The freed miner told a local radio station, Cooperativa, he was working when the rubble covered the exit.

"I was trapped but got out through a hole above and stayed in an area that was more spacious, waiting for the rescue," Mr Torres Lopez said.

Authorities said that, although he was not deep underground, the rescue operation took a long time as there was little room for manoeuvre.

'Great joy'

Mr Torres Lopez confirmed he had communicated by tapping on shaft tubes.

"I started hitting and they too, so we made contact. It was a great joy, because (I knew) I was going to see my son, my mum, my family. I'm happy," he told Radio Cooperativa.

The Victoria mine lies some 40km (25 miles) from the city of Vallenar.

In 2010, 33 miners were brought back to the surface of the San Jose copper mine after a mammoth 69-day rescue operation in the same area of northern Chile.

The miners' return to the surface through a small shaft was broadcast around the world.

After the San Jose rescue, the Chilean government tightened mine security measures across the country, but injuries and deaths due to tunnel collapses and rockfalls remain a common problem.

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