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Rescuers still struggling to reach Chilean miners after accident
The accident at a small copper and gold mine in northern Chile late on Thursday has trapped around 34 miners. No deaths are yet reported but only preliminary information is available
SANTIAGO (Reuters) -
Rescuers struggled on Friday to reach about 34 miners trapped in a small copper and gold mine in northern Chile after a cave-in a day earlier, though authorities hoped miners took refuge in an underground shelter with oxygen and water.
Local officials had no details about the condition of the people trapped in the mine located 28 miles (45 km) from the northern city of Copiapo.
Major mining accidents are uncommon in Chile, the world's top copper producer, as authorities keep strict controls over operations. The accident, which occurred late on Thursday and shut down the mine, is not expected to hurt copper output in the country.
The region's superintendent, Ximena Matas, said the miners could have huddled in a shelter that contains enough oxygen and food "for them to last for some time."
"We pray to God that they are at the shelter," said Matas, adding that rescuers are advancing slowly to reach the miners, who are believed to be trapped several kilometres (miles) inside the mine.
Television images showed dozens of crying relatives waiting outside the underground mine located in Chile's arid, northern Atacama region.
"We hope they are all fine, but we are also angry because we have no information about our relatives," said a woman outside the mine.
The mine owner, Compania Minera San Esteban Primera, was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; editing by Eric Beech)
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