President vows to punish mine bosses
Published 15/10/2010 | 05:00
CHILE'S president has warned of "punishments" to come over safety failings that led to 33 miners being trapped underground at the San Jose mine.
Recrimination tempered the mood of national celebration as Sebastian Pinera announced that the 125-year-old mine near Copiapo would be closed permanently, saying: "Those who are responsible will have to assume their responsibility."
The miners and their rescuers have publicly pressed Mr Pinera to take steps to prevent a repeat of their 69-day ordeal. Luis Urzua, the shift foreman and final miner to be brought to the surface on Wednesday, told him: "I hand the shift over to you and hope this never happens again."
San Esteban Primera, the mine's owner, is facing growing scrutiny over why the site, which had been closed following an accident in July, was allowed to reopen only eight days before the collapse that trapped the men.
It had been closed twice before following accidents, and the company was ordered to introduce new safety measures after the deaths of three other workers in separate incidents. Speaking after visiting the miners in hospital in Copiapo yesterday, Mr Pinera said: "The words of Luis Urzua touched me in the soul, this should never happen again. Never again will we allow them to work in conditions so inhuman." (© Daily Telegraph, London)