Relatives of a coal miner comfort each other after around 10 people were reported to be trapped when a shaft collapsed in Mexico

Mexico City (AFP) - Rescuers raced Wednesday to free about 10 workers believed to be trapped in a coal mine in northern Mexico, while three others were found alive, authorities said.

Military personnel and rescue dogs were deployed to the scene of the accident in the state of Coahuila, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

“At 1:35 pm (1835 GMT) a coal mine collapsed in the municipality of Sabinas, Coahuila, which caused a tunnel to flood” and trapped the workers, he tweeted.

“We hope to find them safe.”

Lopez Obrador had said nine miners were missing, but the security ministry said later that three had been rescued and taken to hospital while 10 were still believed to be inside.

“The work will not stop until they are found,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Mexican government guarantees all the necessary resources to carry out the search and rescue operations,” it said.

Anxious relatives gathered to wait for news, with some crying and comforting each other at the site, about 1,130 kilometres (700 miles) north of Mexico City.

The mother of one of the workers wept inconsolably, unable to answer questions from the press.

Through tears, another woman at the scene said two of her children worked in the mine, though one of them had managed to escape after the accident.

As night fell hours later, the families gathered under tents outside the mine in silence as state police, the national guard, medical teams and other rescuers worked to find the trapped workers.

Rescuers work at a coal mine in northern Mexico where around 10 people were believed to be trapped

Coahuila’s state government said that the miners had been carrying out excavation work when they hit an adjoining area full of water, causing the shaft to collapse and flood.

“The mine began operating in January of this year and until now there have been no reports of any type of anomaly,” it said in a statement.

State governor Miguel Riquelme said he had asked labor authorities and the local prosecutor’s office to prioritize the rescue and investigation.

Coahuila, the country’s main coal-producing region, has seen a series of fatal mining accidents over the years.

The worst was an explosion that claimed 65 lives at the Pasta de Conchos mine in 2006.

Last year, seven miners died when they were trapped after another accident in Coahuila.