SPAIN, Suria Catalan leader Pere Aragones confirmed that three people who were trapped after a gallery collapsed earlier on Thursday had perished.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm the death of three young people who were working in the mine,” he told reporters outside the Cabanasses mine in Suria, about 75 kilometers (46 miles) northwest of Barcelona.
Aragones expressed his deepest condolences to the families and coworkers of the three victims, all of whom were “around 30 years old,” based on their ages when they died.
After one of the galleries collapsed at around 9:00 a.m., rescuers estimated that the three were “at a depth of about 900 meters” (2,950 feet) (0800 GMT).
Hours passed before rescuers finally made it down to the spot where they were and confirmed their deaths, despite their best efforts.
“The information we have makes us fear the worst,” regional interior minister Joan Ignasi Elena had told reporters at the mine a few hours before as the rescue efforts continued.
A quick rescue would be “reckless,” he said, because of the need to protect the rescue teams.
We deeply regret the death of the three miners in the accident in the Suria mine,” Aragones wrote on Twitter shortly after noon.
He removed the tweet a few minutes later.
Many local and national media outlets reported their deaths as well, citing emergency services sources; however, police stated that they could not confirm the reports until “they were reached by a doctor” and their families were informed.
Mine worker Carlos Arnaldo told reporters at the scene that all three were performing “a routine task that they do every day” when the gallery gave way.
To him, it was “difficult” to accept the possibility that they had survived.
Sometimes there is no warning from the mine; the roof simply caves in, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yolanda Diaz, the minister of labor in Suria, tweeted, “This is terrible news. Love and solidarity to the families and colleagues of the workers caught up in the collapse at the Suria mine.”
The Cabanasses mine recently passed a security inspection and is owned by ICL Iberia, the Spanish branch of Israel’s ICL Group, which specializes in fertilizers and chemicals.
“The last inspection was just three weeks ago and it was cleared without any sign of irregularities,” Roger Torrent, Catalonia’s regional business minister, told reporters on the scene.
According to their website, ICL Iberia is the only company in Spain responsible for the extraction, treatment, and marketing of potassium salts.
Surinamese-owned and -operated, with over a thousand staff members.
The Catalan press at the time reported, citing an official statement, that two miners had been killed in the same mine when a gallery collapsed in December 2013.
Two months prior, in October 2013, six miners were killed and five others injured when a gas leak at a coal mine in the northwest of Spain.
It was the worst mining accident in Spain since a methane explosion killed 14 workers in a coal mine in Asturias in August 1995.