The families of the trapped Chilean
miners have launched a multi-million pound legal action against the country’s
An official confirmed the joint
lawsuit had been filed as a major rescue operation continued to free the 33
The miners’ relatives have been
holding a vigil outside the mine in the Atacama Desert after a rock fall
blocked the exit shaft on 5 August.
They are angry that the mine was
allowed to reopen a year after a fatal accident – even though safety standards
had not been improved at the site.
“The suit is against the
company that owns the mine, against the state workers who did not do their jobs
and the Chilean state,” local mayor Brunilda Gonzalez told Radio
After the collapse, the government
froze the assets of San Esteban group, which operates the mine.
The firm filed for bankruptcy
earlier this month and since then the Chilean government has paid for the
massive rescue operation costs.
The miners are said to be in high
spirits after progress in the drilling of the escape tunnels raised hopes they
may be freed a month ahead of schedule.
But the rescuers have also urged
caution, warning that unforeseen problems could still slow the work.
The Plan B drill is now nearly
1,000ft deep – almost halfway to its goal – and could break through to the
miners in about five days, said Interior Ministry official Cristian Barra.
The first rescue capsule has
arrived at the site, but workers still need to attach it to a huge steel cable,
which could be ready in 15 days.