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Nicaragua: Miners Trapped in Gold Mine, 22 Rescued

First Posted: Aug 30, 2014 05:01 PM EDT
Nicaraguan Gold Miners were Trapped in an Old Mine

Photo : tcsnoticias / Twitter

A cave-in at a remote mine in northern Nicaragua trapped between 27 and 29 miners. Although most of the men have been rescued, some remain missing inside the old mining shaft.

The collapse happened Thursday near the northern city of Bonanza, more than 200 miles from the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. According to EFE, a landslide from El Corral mountain nearby covered the mine's entrance with rubble.

Two miners near the opening managed to dig themselves out but at least 27 remained trapped, Gregorio Downs, spokesman for the Hemco mining company, told reporters.

Government and Hemco workers worked to rescue the remaining miners, a government spokesman said, according to EFE.

"We express our solidarity with these miners, their families and Bonanza, praying to God that all of our brothers who suffered this terrible accident escape with their lives," the Nicaraguan mining industry association said at the time.

By late Friday, 20 miners had been rescued, according to AFP. Speaking to reporters, Nicaragua's First Lady Rosario Murillo said the search continues for the remaining miners.

"Hopefully we can find them in the coming hours," she said. "We give thanks to God our Lord and the Virgin Mary for having saved from death 20 artisanal miners,"

The 20 artisanal or freelance miners, known as guiriseros, were rescued thanks to a pulley system devised by rescue workers, reports AFP. The men had fallen down 2,600 feet.

According to AFP, artisanal or freelance mining is legal in Nicaragua, unlike other mining nations, because it allows workers to earn what little they can. The guiriseros work independently or in collectives and sell what they find to mining companies.

Reuters reports that the Bonanza mine had been closed by Hemco, a subsidiary of Colombia's Mineros S.A., four years ago because it was deemed unsafe and the company warned the miners before they entered, according to Julio Quintero, head of Hemco.

"We live by extracting mineral from Hemco. They told us digging here was risky, but sometimes one is willing to risk it for a few more cents," said Absalon Toledo, the guirisero leader to the Associated Press.

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