A gas explosion in a coal mine in northern Mexico killed three miners, injured one and left 11 others trapped deep underground.
Officials warned that chances were slim that anyone could have survived the massive blast.
Dozens of weeping relatives of the miners gathered outside the small, recently opened mine in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila state.
President Felipe Calderon called on Mexicans “to pray that they are still alive”.
But labour secretary Javier Lozano said mine employees had found the bodies of three miners at the front of the blast area, and given the size of the explosion and its force, “the outlook is very bad”.
“The truth is that it does not allow us to hold out much hope,” said Mr Lozano, noting the blast was so strong it injured a 15-year-old boy who had been working on a conveyor belt outside the mine pit.
The boy was taken to a hospital in a serious condition, said Jesus Espinoza, a spokesman for mining company Bimsa. Federal prosecutors later said both the boy’s arms had been amputated.
The announcement of the three deaths came just after Mexico said it was calling in mine rescue experts from Chile to help in the effort.
The 14 miners had gone down the 197ft shaft when the explosion happened early yesterday.
The mine had opened just over a month ago, and employed about 25 miners.
Officials said they were investigating who was actually operating the mine because there was conflicting registry data.
And the federal attorney general’s office said it had opened an investigation into the blast, which it said was caused by a build up of gas.
A similar blast caused by methane gas killed 65 miners in February 2006 at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in San Juan de Sabinas, near where yesterday’s explosion occurred.