Authorities and emergency agencies on Monday indefinitely suspended the operation to rescue eight men trapped in a gold mine in southern Honduras due to the risk of new cave-ins.
“The decision was made based on the knowledge of experts and taking into account the possibility of a greater tragedy due to the high-risk situation of the mine,” said Honduran geologist Anibal Godoy at a press conference he offered with Copeco emergency management chief Moises Alvarado.
The geologist said that the decision to cancel for “a prudent period” the rescue efforts was made due to the instability of the mountain where the San Juan Arriba mine is located in Choluteca province, which borders on Nicaragua.
Godoy said that experts felt the chances of finding the missing miners alive were very small.
“The bodies ... will remain here, since we cannot risk the lives of more people,” the geologist said when asked by reporters about the fate of the eight men.
He said that if “we continue seeking routes (to enter the mine) the dead will not number just eight, it will be many more because each team (of emergency personnel) that enters is 15 people.”
Godoy and the experts involved in the search efforts also recommended that the Honduran government “immediately suspend all mining work” at the site.
One of the local miners participating in the rescue, Esteban Estrada, told reporters that a group of men will continue the search despite the warnings of the authorities.
Alvarado, meanwhile, expressed his “solidarity” with the relatives of the eight victims and said he regretted that the rescue efforts could not be continued.
“It’s been a tireless effort since the moment the accident occurred and we were able to rescue three brother miners alive,” he emphasized, referring to the three men who were rescued last Friday, two days after the mine collapse on July 2.
No maps exist of the inside of the mine, which made the rescue work even more difficult.