Trapped Chilean miners’ family sues bosses


This video is called Trapped Chile Miners Found Alive After 17 Days.

From the Ottawa Citizen in Canada:

First lawsuit filed against Chilean mining company

Safety warnings ignored, families say; judge freezes assets as a ‘precaution’

The Daily Telegraph and Agence France-Presse August 27, 2010

Families of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground are to sue the site’s owner for negligence after alleging that the mining company repeatedly ignored warnings about safety concerns and had been fined for breaching regulations.

On Thursday, one family launched the first lawsuit against the company, San Esteban Primera, and Edgardo Reinoso, a lawyer representing families of another 24 miners, says he is preparing a case.

The company has warned them that it is considering filing for bankruptcy and may not be able to pay salaries owed to the miners when they finally emerge, let alone damages that might be awarded by the impending lawsuits.

However, a Chilean judge Thursday froze $1.8 million in revenue from the gold and copper mine in response to a petition from most of the families, Reinoso said.

“We have found assets, there is money coming in, and we asked the judge in Copiapo that it be withheld as a precautionary measure,” said Reinoso. He said someone had to be held responsible for what had happened.

“Luckily they are alive, but the harm that the situation has caused for them and their families is huge,” he said.

The miners have been stuck below ground since the mine collapsed on Aug. 5. They are not expected to be rescued until Christmas.

Vincelot Tobar, who was in charge of risk prevention for San Esteban Primera, claimed the company put production before safety. He resigned in 2009 over what he said was the company’s failure to institute safety recommendations.

“They never carried out the most fundamental adjustments needed to avoid disasters like what we’re seeing today,” he said. “They always pushed on production.”

The first family to file a lawsuit on Thursday accused the mine’s owners and government inspectors of criminal negligence by allowing the shaft to reopen in 2008 after a worker accident caused it to be closed in 2007.

“I’m not thinking of monetary compensation. I’m thinking of holding people responsible. Not only the mine’s owners but also people who didn’t do their job” to check the safety of the mine, said Carolina Narvaez, wife of trapped miner Raul Bustos.

One of the trapped miners, Luis Urzua, said his team found their way to an emergency shaft but were unable to climb it because there were no ladders, despite San Esteban Primera having been ordered to install them following a death in 2007.

“We attempted to get up through the air shaft but as it didn’t have a ladder we aborted,” he said.

Chile’s Congress has also opened an investigation into the accident.

See also here.

Chilean miners’ ordeal ’caused by greed and graft’: here.

Chilean copper mines were nationalized by socialist president Salvador Allende. However, they were privatized by the Pinochet dictatorship.

Bachelet says trapped miners are ‘heroes’: here.

Former Chilean President Bachelet to Head New UN Women Agency: here.

Chile’s trapped miners: Victims of a ruthless drive for profit: here.

Chile to Probe President Salvador Allende’s Death in U.S.-Backed Coup in 1973: here.

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