UnNews:Ecuador stages copycat mine collapse

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16 October 2010

(File photo) We don't know what an Ecuadorean mine collapse looks like. Nor where Ecuador is. But this is what a Chilean mine collapse looks like.

QUITO, Ecuador -- In the wake of the heroic rescue of 33 miners from the San José Mine in Chile, Ecuador has had a mine collapse of its own. However, this mine shaft is only 150 meters (a few feet) deep, only four miners are trapped, and no one is paying attention.

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Miners on the minus-fifth story were trapped inside the gold mine in Portovelo, 400 kilometers (a few miles) south of Quito, which seems to be the capital of Ecuador. The mishap occurred when a trolley used to transport miners and ore jammed on the tracks. The mine is owned by the Ecuadorean mining company Oro-"R"-Nosotros.

The Chilean disaster transfixed the world for 69 days. Corporations around the world donated relief supplies, from innovative, stink-proof socks to Pop-Tarts, and showcased mining technology such as fiber optics and the gigantic drill bit that opened the rescue shaft while avoiding all the miners. Deputy Mining Minister Jorge Espinosa said, "It would be nice if we could get some of that stuff too."

Edwin Javier Manrique said rescuers had reached one spot but had found no miners. He said rescuers are digging toward a second likely spot. The number and names of the miners were provided by survivors of the mishap. The company confirms that the four are missing. But that's not unusual. Manrique is the mayor of Tasco municipality in Boyaca province, doubtless somewhere near the fateful mine.

Ecuador, reportedly in South America, has had no good news recently. President Rafael Correa recently survived what he calls a "mutiny" of policemen and Air Force officers, some of whom he taunted from an upper window of a hospital during a protest march. He has been arresting a lot of them. Fortunately, unlike his predecessor, no one has ever accused Correa of having "watery sperm." The country hopes for a months-long drama and the prospect of watching miners face certain death as a relatively cheerful distraction.

Ecuador is separated from Chile by the buffer state of Peru, where nothing is going wrong recently, and all the mines are competently managed, by foreigners. However, President Alan García is studying a disaster that might put his country back on the map. "If not a mine collapse, we can always recall all the money and replace it, again, with new currency worth one thousand times less."

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