At least three people were killed and between 20 and 30 others trapped when an illegal gold mine collapsed in Santander de Quilichao, a city in the southwestern Colombian province of Cauca, officials said Thursday.
The collapse occurred Wednesday night in the rural district of San Antonio, Cauca Gov. Temistocles Ortega told RCN La Radio.
Eight miners injured in the collapse have been pulled out of the mine, the governor said.
“A collapse occurred at the mine around midnight yesterday. Three bodies have been recovered, there are eight people injured and we are working with emergency services in case there are more victims of the disaster,” Ortega said.
The mine where the accident happened is an open pit and the slope collapsed, burying the miners.
Officials do not know how many people are trapped and are depending on estimates from people who worked at the mine, Santander de Quilichao emergency management office director Graciela Tovar told RCN La Radio.
Many people enter the mine at night to avoid being detected by police because they are breaking the law, Tovar said.
Officials have complained about illegal mining, but the mine was not closed “because of inefficiency on the part of the state,” the governor said.
This is the second accident at an illegal mine in Colombia in less than a week.
Four miners were killed and 65 others injured when they were exposed to toxic gases following an explosion at an illegal gold mine in Buritica, a city in the northwestern province of Antioquia.