Six of the Chilean miners who were rescued after spending 69 harrowing days trapped in a collapsed copper mine in 2010 have sent messages of solidarity to families of the 301 miners who died in a mining disaster in Soma, a town in western Turkey, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
One survivor of the Chilean mining disaster, Luis Alberto Urzua Irribarren, 54, now runs an organization that works to prevent mine accidents across the world and told the Hürriyet Daily News that he is ready to visit the Soma miners and their families.
"We established the foundation to emphasize the importance of safe rooms and rescue chambers in mines," Irribarren said. "I advise Turkish officials to organize the rescue operation with the help of mine engineers and workers to decrease the number of deaths."
"I pray for your country. I have experienced the same. I cannot explain the pain and empathy in my heart. Do not give up your belief in God and your hope. I have survived that hellhole after staying there for 69 days."
Jorge Gallegeuillos Orellana, another survivor of the 2010 Chilean mine accident, also expressed empathy for the families in Soma, saying, "The souls and prayers of all miners in Copiapo city are with you."
He emphasized that engineers must learn from their mistakes and improve conditions in mines.
"The accident [in 2010] was a milestone for Chilean engineers. But this saddening accident in Turkey still took place; lessons must not have been learned. We were trapped in a copper mine, while the one in Turkey is a coal mine so their conditions are harder. I offer my condolences to the families of the lost ones. I wish for patience and courage to my colleagues still trapped in Turkey," Orellana said.
Omar Reygadas Rojas, another survivor who still works as a miner in Chile, said he was willing to travel to Turkey to show support for the Soma miners.
"I wish I could be there to work with the rescue teams," said Rojas, noting that when he first heard of the disaster in Turkey, he immediately thought of the two months he spent trapped in the Chilean mines.
Rojas said Turkish government should enforce strict laws and measures to prevent such accidents.
Survivor Juan Andres Llanes, 57, also spoke about the accident, suggesting that if the cause was the large amount of coal gas, this was due to the negligence of officials.
"I wish they had taken lessons from the accident in Chile," said Llanes, who stopped mining after the 2010 tragedy. "The capitalist system dominates the workers in Turkey and other developing countries."