Honduran miners trapped by landslide

TEGUCIGALPA - Rescue workers are trying to free 11 Hondurans who are trapped in a small artisanal gold mine 110km (70 miles) south of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

The miners were cut off on Wednesday after a landslide blocked their tunnel near the town of El Corpus.

Firefighters said they had made contact with three of the men. The fate of the other eight was not known.

Artisanal mines are common in Honduras but the lack of adequate security means fatal accidents are not unusual.

Risky rescue

The artisanal mine is located in an area prone to landslides and quakes.

The rescue workers said their work was progressing "slowly and with difficulty" because of the risk of another landslide.

Firefighter spokesman Oscar Triminio said they could not use heavy machinery because the terrain was unstable.

Emergency workers said they had heard shouts from three of the miners, but they did not know if the other eight were still alive.

The collapse happened in a vertical tunnel at a depth of about 80m (260ft), Mr Triminio said.

Rescuers have been pumping oxygen to the three through a hose.

The mayor of the nearby town of El Corpus, Luis Andres Rueda, said that there were more than 50 artisanal mines in the area.

He said that daily hundreds of people use ladders to climb down into shafts as deep as 200m.

Armed with pickaxes, they hack away at the tunnel walls to try to extract minute gold nuggets from the soil.

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