- - Monday, April 9, 2012

LIMA — Peru’s government is appealing to mining companies for heavy equipment and experts to help free nine miners trapped for four days in an informal copper mine.

Several dozen rescue workers have been using pickaxes and shovels to try to remove the 26 feet of collapsed earth and rock blocking the entrance of the mine, whose horizontal shaft is dug into a mountainside 175 miles southeast of Lima.

Firefighters have fashioned wooden beams to support the debris removal, but their relatively crude efforts prompted Mining Minister Jorge Merino to appeal for help from mining companies.

Thursday’s collapse occurred following a blast set by the miners themselves in a mine last exploited commercially in the 1980s.

Through a hose, rescuers have been able to communicate with the trapped miners and provide them with liquid sustenance and the local police chief, Jose Saavedra, told the Associated Press that several tons of earth and rock already have been removed from the tunnel’s mouth.

Officials worry, however, that some could suffer from exposure though none appear to be hurt.

CUBA

Castro mocks Obama over ‘guayabera’ diplomacy

HAVANA — Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro mocked the idea that President Obama could wear a “guayabera” shirt at an upcoming Americas summit in Colombia while opposing Cuba’s presence at the event.

News reports have said a noted Colombian designer is making a series of guayaberas for Mr. Obama to wear at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena on Saturday and Sunday.

Mr. Castro, whose brother Raul succeeded him as president in 2008, offered a history lesson on the origins of the light, tropical shirt, asserting that it was created in an area of Cuba that is watered by the Yayabo River.

“That’s why they were originally called yayaberas,” he wrote in an article published in the Cuban press.

Other accounts say the shirt’s name may have come from the guayabas, or guavas, that could be carried in the large pockets that are sewn into the shirt’s pleated front.

“What’s curious, dear readers, is that Cuba is forbidden from attending this meeting, but not the guayaberas. Who can stop laughing?” Mr. Castro said.

The U.S. and Canada have opposed Cuba’s participation in the meeting, which brings together 34 heads of state and government to discuss regional cooperation and a reduction of physical barriers to integration.

ARGENTINA

Bus crash kills 10, injures 40

BUENOS AIRES — A bus ran off a road in northern Argentina and plunged into a ravine, killing 10 people and injuring about 40 others, officials said over the weekend. Two Germans were reported among the dead.

The bus operated by the company Potosi left Villazon, Bolivia, on Friday night and was traveling on a route to Buenos Aires when the crash occurred Saturday in the province of Jujuy, prosecutor Alejandro Maldonado said.

Mr. Maldonado said six of the 10 victims had been identified by Saturday evening, including two Germans identified as Sophie Colombine Aring and Herman Schneider. He said the other four victims identified so far were Bolivians.

Police said a 6-year-old girl and a 6-month-old girl were among those killed.

VENEZUELA

Chavez hikes pay, as he returns to Cuba

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez over the weekend announced plans to increase his country’s minimum wage.

Mr. Chavez said the minimum wage will increase 15 percent in May and an additional 15 percent in September. The increase has been expected given Venezuela’s soaring inflation, which currently stands at about 25 percent.

The socialist president’s government has raised the minimum wage between 20 percent and 30 percent each year during the past decade.

Mr. Chavez made the announcement, as he prepared to return to Cuba late Saturday for his next round of cancer treatment. He has been traveling to and from Havana recently for radiation therapy.

HAITI

26 merchants killed in truck accident

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The number of Haitian merchants who died in a truck accident outside the Caribbean nation’s capital climbed to 26, the government said Sunday.

President Michel Martelly’s office said the passengers died when their truck flipped on National Highway 2 near the western town of Petit Goave.

Thirty people were wounded, the office said. The truck was filled with merchants transporting goods to the countryside.

Ronald Louis of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said Saturday that the brakes on the truck failed as it tried to drive up a steep hill, causing it to roll backward. It then veered off the side of the highway.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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