Family members of 10 miners who have been trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern Mexico for three weeks said on Thursday they rejected a government plan to find the miners that they said officials described as lasting from six to 11 months.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said earlier in the day that officials would run a proposal by the miners’ relatives to seek their approval before publicly announcing it.
Mexico’s Civil Protection agency, which has coordinated the rescue effort, did not respond to a question about what director Laura Velazquez shared in a meeting with family members.
Reuters could not independently verify the government’s proposal.
The miners became trapped underground at the Pinabete mine in the northern border state of Coahuila on Aug. 3 when a tunnel wall collapsed, triggering flooding throughout the mine.
Five miners managed to escape after the collapse but 10 remain in the flooded mine. Families have been hoping the men were able to find a pocket of air to stay alive. But there has been no contact and it is not known whether they are still alive.
Erika Escobedo, the wife of one of the trapped miners, told Reuters that she and the other relatives had turned down the proposal from Civil Protection.
“The director told us the rescue will take from six to 11 months,” she said. “We are very sad … I’m thinking about how to break the news to my children.”
Families for days have urged quicker action to save the trapped men, and Mexican officials last week sought the help of German and U.S. engineers.
A relative interviewed by Mexican television station Milenio said Velazquez proposed making an open pit to find the miners and offering monetary compensation to the relatives, but both measures were cold comfort.
“We don’t know how they are now, and we will know less in six months,” said the woman, who was not named. “We don’t want money, we want them.”