Tons of rock and clay have fallen on top of an open pit gold mine in Colombia’s southwestern state of Cauca, trapping 17 miners and injuring another nine, local media reported on Wednesday.
Initial reports detail that as hundreds of people were finishing their shift, tons of rock and clay fell on top of them, trapping 17, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
The mining tragedy took place in the town of Timbiqui, Cauca on Colombia’s Pacific coast; however, rescue efforts have been complicated because access to the mine takes 45 minutes by river.
“This is very serious. The people who could save themselves are just arriving at the hospital. The seriously injured are nine, and among them is the owner of the informal mine,” said Víctor Amu Sinisterra, mayor of Timbiqui, in an interview with El Tiempo.
The tragedy currently unfolding is similar to one that happened in Cauca in May.
“There is an immense amount of distress in the community from seeing so many people disappear in one moment. Relief is on its way to the area, and we hope that at a departamental level, help is given to help us overcome this emergency. We ask for a lot of support to address the situation, since we haven’t been able to control it,” said Sinisterra.