Collapse in illegal mine traps 30 and kills 3 in Colombia’s south

(Photo: La Opinion)

At least 30 people remain trapped after an illegal mine collapsed in the southern Colombian state of Cauca which also killed three people and left two injured, local media reported on Thursday.

The illegal goldmine in Cauca’s northern region of Santander de Quilichao collapsed on Wednesday night after a “large landslide” killed three workers and trapped what authorities believe could be as many as thirty people, El Tiempo Newspaper reported.

Rescue efforts to find the missing workers restarted on Thursday morning with local authorities speculating that the missing miners could be trapped more than 65 feet underground, Pulzo news reported.

“We arrived close to midnight and managed to find three bodies while bringing two people to hospital Francisco de Paula Santander,” the commander of the local fire department, Victor Claros, confirmed the to Caracol Radio.

“My men descended at least 65 feet into the illegal mine but the bodies are much lower, covered by a thick layer of mud and stones,” Claros said and added that the rescue efforts were hindered due to darkness on Wednesday night.

MORE: Gold for gold: Colombia offers reward for information on illegal mining

Red Cross member Alvaro Delgado described landslide as “enormous” and cited witnesses who said that it is was as if “the earth was swallowing people and would not let them out,” RCN Radio reported.

Delgado explained to RCN Radio that “the area was difficult to access because the land had moved and the depth could be 130 to 165 feet.”

“In this moment the area is being assessed by the Red Cross along with the fire department, and the National Police who are providing security,” Delgado said, adding that a rescue team with four canines from the city Popayan [Cauca] is expected at the scene.

The mine collapse is the second accident of an illegal mine in less than a week. In the mining area Buritica, in the central state Antioquia, four people asphyxiated because of carbon monoxide and 95 injured after a mine collapsed on Friday, El Tiempo reported.

Environmental damage and human right’s issues caused by illegal mines throughout Colombian continue to be a problem and have previously brought on international criticism to the country’s government for failing to adequately address the ongoing practice.


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