OTTAWA – The recent successful rescue of two Dominican miners trapped underground for more than a week was made possible thanks to the support of the international community, including direct assistance from the Royal Canadian Air Force, according to the president of the company at the center of the incident. . .
Paul Marinko, director of the Dominican Mining Corporation known as Cormidom, said Canada played a critical role in transporting equipment that was ultimately used to help free men from the Cerro de Maimón operation in the Dominican Republic.
The miners’ ordeal caused Gregores Méndez and Carlos Yepez to spend 10 days trapped 31 meters below the surface from July 31 to August 9.
Marinko said national support for the rescue effort was strong, with Dominican President Luis Abinader calling daily to check on the status of the rescue and various government departments providing direct support on the ground.
But he said experts from the US, Canada and the UK were also involved, and the Canadian government played a key role in procuring and supplying equipment for the rescue operation.
“It was heartwarming to see that response,” Marinko said in a Zoom interview.
Marinko said the company sprang into action immediately after the “ground collapse” that left the miners confined to a 400-square-meter space. Within 15 hours of the incident, he said the teams involved in the rescue had dug a hole through which they delivered water, food, walkie-talkies, entertainment and a light source.
However, Marinko said the experience would have been terrifying for both men.
The miners eventually reported a rise in water levels that eventually reached waist level, but Marinko says they were able to pump the water out at a rate six times the rate of entry.
“One could imagine being trapped, seeing the water rising and knowing that the rescue is not going to be quick. So they went through some scary times,” she said.
After assessing what equipment would be needed to safely rescue the miners, Marinko said the company began trying to locate it abroad.
Machines Rogers International, a mining company based in Val D’Or, Que. agreed to lend the necessary machinery to Cormidom, and the Dominican government contacted Ottawa for assistance in transporting the equipment.
“The problem for us was transportation … it was beyond our resources, we didn’t have the capacity to do it,” Marinko said.
The Royal Canadian Air Force transported the mining excavation system to the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo on August 7. Two days later, the miners were rescued with the help of a team sent by Machines Rogers International.
Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted Tuesday thanking Royal Canadian Air Force personnel involved in the mission.
“To our Airmen: You make Canadians proud and we are grateful for your service,” Anand wrote.
Marinko said the two miners were released from the hospital on Thursday and are now with their families.
The rescue comes after the collapse of a coal mine in Mexico that trapped 15 miners, of whom five escaped with injuries. First attempts by rescue divers to reach the remaining 10 miners failed, Mexican authorities said Thursday.
“I think of those poor men trapped in Mexico,” Marinko said. “We were lucky.”
The cause of the incident at Cerro de Maimón is currently under investigation and the underground mine is temporarily closed.
“When the authorities and, more importantly, when they are sure that it is safe, we will go back inside,” Marinko said.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 14, 2022.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION