Local authorities said Saturday that they have ruled out the possibility of there being survivors in the aftermath of an illegal mine collapse in Colombia’s southern state of Cauca. As of Saturday morning, five bodies had been found, according to local media.
This past Wednesday, an illegal gold mine near Cauca’s northern Santander de Quilichao municipality collapsed due to a landslide trapping an estimated 30 miners and workers and initially killing three.
Updated reports revealed that there were in fact 13 miners unaccounted for — likely beneath the rubble — and search teams have been using rescue dogs for three days in an attempt to save the missing men.
Saturday morning however, local media reported that authorities have given up trying to find survivors of the deadly collapse, one calling the possibility of finding miners alive “impossible.”
“I ask God for there to be survivors, but it is impossible,” said Eduard Grijalba, mayor of Santander de Quilichao.
Two bodies were reported found by local media Saturday afternoon, making the total death toll five.
“It is difficult for there to be survivors 20 meters below the ground,” the local official told the Associated Press.
Grijalba said that the search teams will continue looking for the bodies of the (now) 11 other missing men for 10-12 days, and mentioned that his town is very sad over this “tragedy,” according to El Universal newspaper.
The search teams are being managed by the national army, the police, Civil Defense and the Red Cross.
Grijalba also stated that he hopes the government will “help to put an end to the subject of illegal mining in Santander de Quilichao” noting that his own local authorities have tried to close such illegal mines to little success. He said that those areas are out of control of his authorities.
“The owners of the mines pay the people of the town so that they hurl rocks at any official that goes out [to close it down],” said the mayor.
Local authorities have also reportedly received death threats in the past while attempting to close the mine.