Shaft collapses at copper mine in northern Chile, trapping dozens of workers underground

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Rescuers scrambled Friday to dig out 34 copper mine workers trapped nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) below ground after a tunnel caved in.

Authorities were hopeful the miners managed to reach an underground shelter that contains oxygen, food and other supplies after the collapse Thursday afternoon at the San Jose mine in northern Chile.

A day later, however, attempts to contact them through chimneys and vents have been unsuccessful.

Labor Minister Camila Merino said the shelter has enough oxygen to last the workers two more days — though other miners said there was only enough for another 24 hours.

Rescuers were able to descend only about 200 feet (64 meters) into the mine, and were forced to pause the rescue effort for hours while they waited for heavy digging and other special equipment to be brought in.

"So far attempts to access the mine have been unsuccessful," Merino said.

In 2007, an explosion at the San Jose mine killed three workers.

It is owned by private mining company San Esteban.