Latin America & Caribbean

Trapped Peruvian miners rescued

Nine Peruvian miners trapped underground for nearly a week by a rockfall have been rescued.

They were met by relatives and President Ollanta Humala after emerging from the Cabeza de Negro mine in southern Peru on Wednesday morning.

The miners are reported to be in good health. They were wearing dark glasses to protect their eyes from daylight.

On Sunday, officials said the rescue operation at the small copper mine had been delayed by fresh rock collapses.

Eyewitnesses quoted by the AFP news agency said they left the mine one by one wearing blankets. One had difficulty walking and was wearing an oxygen mask.

Dehydrated and dizzy

"We told each other jokes to keep up our hopes and ran from one place to another to keep warm," one of the rescued miners, Edwin Bellido Sarmiento, told broadcaster Panamericana about his ordeal.

"There was a point when we thought we wouldn't get out," another miner, Javier Tapia Lopez, said.

"All of them are healthy but obviously dehydrated and dizzy," President Humala said, according to Reuters. "They still need to get used to the sun, that's why they are wearing sunglasses."

The miners, who were trapped about 200m underground since last Thursday, had been supplied with oxygen and food through a tube.

Rescue workers, who included police officers and firefighters, also used the tube to communicate with the miners, who are aged between 22 and 59.

The Cabeza de Negro mine, in Ica, some 300km (185 miles) south of the capital, Lima, is one of Peru's many wildcat mines, where miners take high risks to extract copper and other metals.

Mr Humala called for action to regulate the jobs of the "thousands of Peruvians who live off illegal mining under inferior humanitarian conditions".

Last year, more than 50 people died in accidents in Peru's silver, gold and copper mines.

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