Remains of Miners Who Died in Mining Tragedy Found 18 Years Later

The bodies of some of the 63 workers who were trapped in a northern Mexican coal mine 18 years ago have been discovered, according to a statement made by Mexican officials on Wednesday.

On February 19, 2006, there was an accident at a mine called Pasta de Conchos in Coahuila, across the border near Texas. Out of the 73 miners who were working, two bodies were found, and eight of them survived with severe burns.

After years of digging, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that they had found the first human remains in one of the mine’s chambers. However, they did not say when the remains were found.

The incident is regarded as one of the worst mining disasters in Mexican history.

The recovery effort didn’t start until 2020, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged to retrieve the dead. Three governments in a row decided against attempting the endeavor, claiming it would be too risky, expensive, and unsuccessful. However, over time, the relatives of the victims persisted in pressing authorities on the matter.

In an effort to reach the long-buried miners, López Obrador placed the Federal Electricity Commission, also known as the CFE, in charge of excavating and burning coal.

According to the Interior Ministry, thirteen miners were working in the chamber where the bodies were discovered on the day of the disaster.

Workers at the Pasta de Conchos mine thought that something terrible was about to happen. They had been complaining for months about insufficient ventilation, live wires on the floor, and a malfunctioning main electrical switch, which caused them to sweat throughout the winter.

However, a government study deeming the mine safe was approved by their union leader. A blast tore through the mine on February 19, twelve days later, killing sixty-five workers.

The remote area in northern Mexico spawned one of the worst labor crises in recent Mexican history.  Wildcat strikes have rocked the global metal markets, devastated the mining sector, and added uncertainty to the July presidential election.

The explosion also exposed one of Mexico’s longest-running scams: the cooperation of the state, business, and labor unions.