Mexico City

The families of ten miners trapped underground in Mexico since early August have rejected a new rescue strategy proposed by the government, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday.

López Obrador said the proposal to tunnel underground was rejected based on how time-consuming it would be.

The El Pinabet mine in Coahuila, Mexico, collapsed on August 3. Rescuers were able to pull out five people, but ten remain trapped in the flood waters.

Since then there has been no sign of life or contact with the missing miners.

Obrador said he wanted the victims’ families to be involved in the rescue strategy, as decisions were made over more than three weeks in the saga. “I instructed (the rescuers) to inform the families, and… they did not agree. It’s not that they don’t want to rescue their relatives; They feel a lot of time,” López Obrador said Friday.

Asked if the government had offered compensation to the families, López Obrador did not rule out payment.

“The most important thing now is defense. Of course, there is compensation, but that is not the point,” he said.

Lopez Obrador said efforts to save the miners and compensation for their families were both on the table. “We are exploring which option is best. And the suggestion is that we don’t give up,” he said.

On Monday, Laura Velazquez, coordinator for Mexico’s civil defense, said water depths in several of the mine’s flooded shafts were as high as 31 meters (101 feet).

Efforts by responders to drain the mine helped to lower the overall water level – until the water rushed back into the adjacent mine when it ruptured.

“Unfortunately, we still couldn’t save the miners… progress was already being made, but unfortunately another hole was opened in a neighboring mine, which flooded and the water level rose again,” López Obrador said at the time.

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