Congressional commission finds negligence in Mexican mine disaster
October 5, 2007
MEXICO CITY: A congressional commission found that negligence contributed to a Mexican mining disaster that killed 63 men.
Operators of the Pasta de Conchos coal mine should have avoided a buildup of gases and coal dust by venting or sealing off affected areas before the Feb. 19, 2006, explosion, according to the report issued Thursday.
Sixty-three miners died. Only two of their bodies have been recovered.
"The disaster was caused in part by negligence and serious omissions by the operators of the mine, given that they did not comply in a timely way with measures demanded by labor authorities," according to a summary of the report issued by the lower house of Congress.
"There was also negligence and omission on the part of authorities at the Labor Department because they did not ensure the implementation of the measures" or order the mine closed, it said.
Grupo Mexico SAB de CV, the mine's operator, has insisted the mine met safety standards and denies allegations that safety precautions were ignored. It does not plan to reopen the mine once efforts to recover bodies conclude.
The congressional report was a finding only, and did not force authorities to take any specific action.
In April, a U.S. expert advised Grupo Mexico to halt recovery efforts, saying the mine is unstable and likely contaminated with toxic gas.
In March, a judge ordered five mine officials to stand trial on negligent homicide charges.