The search for 10 Mexican miners trapped in a flooded colliery could take between six and 11 months, relatives say they have been told.
“We can’t accept this,” Juani Cabriales, the sister of one of the workers, told AFP after being briefed by the government on its latest plan.
On 3 August, a tunnel wall collapsed at the Pinabete mine, northern Coahuila state, triggering flooding.
High water levels in shafts 60m (200ft) deep are delaying the rescue operation.
Five miners have managed to escape following the incident, but there has been no contact with their 10 trapped colleagues.
“They [the government] tell us that it would take between six and 11 months to get them out,” Ms Cabriales told the AFP news agency.
Erika Escobedo, the wife of one of the trapped miners, gave the same details, saying that the relatives had rejected the government’s rescue plan to find the miners.
“We are very sad… I’m thinking about how to break the news to my children,” she told Reuters.
The government has not publicly revealed any details of its proposed plan.
The rescue operation has already been hampered by a number of setbacks.
About two weeks ago, a special underwater drone carrying a camera was lowered into one of the shafts.
The miners’ relatives had hoped the drone would provide them with long-awaited news on their loved ones – but the drone failed to reach the depth at which the miners are believed to have become trapped.
The relatives have also expressed frustration and anger at the slow pace of the rescue effort and at what they said was a lack of communication.
Priests in the area have been saying prayers for the miners’ rescue.