Chilean president offers help to China's trapped miners

16th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera offered to help China with its latest mining disaster on Saturday as he began a trip to London, saying his country had learnt lessons from its own mining crisis.

"I hope that the Chinese workers that have suffered an accident, and also in Ecuador, will be able to come back to life," Pinera told reporters outside his hotel in London, where he arrived earlier at the start of a European trip.

"And if we can be of any help, they know that they can count on us."

Rescue attempts were underway Saturday in central China to free 16 miners trapped underground following a coal mine accident that killed 21 of their colleagues. Meanwhile in Ecuador, four men were trapped in a gold mine.

Pinera said his country had learnt lessons from the disaster-turned-tragedy that occurred in the San Jose mine in far northern Chile, where 33 miners were trapped for two months before miraculously being pulled out alive this week.

"We have a lot to learn from this accident and one of the lessons is that we have to be much more careful and committed with the safety, lives, and health of our workers," he told reporters, flanked by his wife, Cecilia Morel.

The president is due to meet with new British Prime Minister David Cameron -- who he said was "very good for England" -- and Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, and will present them with gifts including rocks from the San Jose mine.

"Also we are bringing the gratitude of all the Chileans because we received a lot of help from our friends around the world," he said.

The president will also find time to do some sightseeing, and has planned a trip to the British Museum as well as to memorials of wartime premier Winston Churchill, who Pinera has said he greatly admires.

The London visit is the start of a European trip that will also include stops in Paris, where Pinera will meet President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Berlin, where he will have talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

© 2010 AFP

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