Three miners have been killed and 11 have been left trapped underground after a gas explosion hit a coal mine in northern Mexico.
One other miner was injured in the blast in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila, after which officials warned that the chances of anyone being left alive were slim.
Mexican labour secretary Javier Lozano said three miners’ bodies had been found at the front of the blast area, with the outlook “very bad” for anyone else in the mine owing to the force of the explosion.
The blast was so strong that a teenage boy working on a conveyor belt outside the pit was seriously injured. Federal authorities later said that both the youngster’s arms had been amputated.
The announcement of the three deaths came just after Mexico said it was calling in mine rescue experts from Chile to help in the effort.
The 14 miners had gone down the 64m shaft when the explosion took place. The mine had opened just over a month ago, and employed about 25 miners.
Officials said they were investigating who was actually operating the mine because there was conflicting registry data. Meanwhile, the federal attorney general’s office said it had opened an investigation into the blast, which it said was caused by a build up of gas.
A similar blast caused by methane gas killed 65 miners in February 2006 at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in San Juan de Sabinas, near where the new explosion occurred.