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AMERICAS > Chilean miners express solidarity with Soma disaster survivors

İpek İzci - Ayla Günerhan ISTANBUL - Hürriyet

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Six of the 33 Chilean miners who were hauled to the surface after 69 days trapped in a collapsed copper mine in 2010 have sent solidarity messages to the grieving families of the 301 miners who died in Turkey’s western town of Soma.

Luis Alberto Urzua Irribarren, 54, who was the last of the miners in Copiapo to surface, told daily Hürriyet that he was ready to visit the Soma miners and their families if Turkey demands it.

“I pray for your country. I have experienced the same. I cannot explain the pain and empathy in my heart. Do not give up your belief in God and your hope. I have survived that hellhole after staying there for 69 days,” said Irribarren, who after the accident founded a foundation that is working to prevent mine accidents across the world.

“We established the foundation to emphasize the importance of safe rooms and rescue chambers in mines. I advise Turkish officials to organize the rescue operation with the help of mine engineers and workers to decrease the number of deaths,” he added.

Jorge Gallegeuillos Orellana, another Chilean miner who was rescued from the copper mine in 2010, also expressed his sympathy for the families in Soma.

“The souls and prayers of all miners in Copiapo city are with you,” Orellana said.

“The accident [in 2010] was a milestone for Chilean engineers. But this saddening accident in Turkey still took place; lessons must not have been learned. We were trapped in a copper mine, while the one in Turkey is a coal mine so their conditions are harder. I offer my condolences to the families of the lost ones. I wish for patience and courage to my colleagues still trapped in Turkey,” Orellana said.

Mario Gomez Heredia, 67, who also survived the Chilean mine accident, said the survivors in Turkey should not be left alone and should receive constant psychological help. A father of four, Heredia said companies’ negligence of security measures was the cause of accidents most of the time. Omar Reygadas Rojas, another survivor who still works as a miner in Chile, said he was willing to come to Turkey in solidarity with the miners in the Soma disaster. Rojas called on the Turkish government to enforce strict laws and measures to prevent such accidents.

“I wish I could be there to work with the rescue teams,” said Rojas, adding that he immediately recalled the two months he spent trapped in the mine when he first heard of the accident in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Juan Andres Llanes, 57, said that if the cause of the accident in Turkey was the large amount of coal gas, this was due to the negligence of officials.

“I wish they had taken lessons from the accident in Chile. The capitalist system dominates the workers in Turkey and other developing countries,” said Llanes, who quit mining after the 2010 accident.

“I would go to Turkey if it wasn’t so far away,” said Mario Sepulveda Espinaza, another survivor.

May/18/2014

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