Mining Landslide Complicates Rescue; Workers Missing in Honduras

Honduras map

A landslide in southern Honduras has blocked the entrance to a mine in which eight people have been trapped for more than a week, according to a report from BBC.

Eleven miners in total were trapped on July 2 when an initial landslide encased them in an illegal gold mine in El Corpus, about 70 miles from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. Three of the 11 were freed on July 4, but the eight have not been found.

The official search was called off after the most recent landslide, but locals continued to dig despite the threat of further landslides. The official status of the trapped miners is uncertain.

“The search and rescue operation has been definitively suspended due to the danger of further landslides in the mine,” Ulises Alvarodo, an emergency services spokesman, told Reuters. “We can’t risk more lives.”

When the three miners were rescued last week, the emergency crews reported smelling foul odors emanating from the 260-foot-deep mine, indicating that the remaining eight could be dead. Locals haven’t given up hope in finding the miners, according to news reports.

El Corpus is in an area that was an epicenter of gold mining for Spanish colonists centuries ago, Reuters reported. An increase in gold prices in recent times has prompted Hondurans to return to that business.

Informal — and illegal — mines are common in this part of Honduras, the BBC reported. Local officials estimate that there are around 50 mines in the area around the troubled mine. The workers use ladders to descend into the earth with pickaxes, looking for gold.

That area is prone to earthquakes and landslides, making mining a risky occupation. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Tuesday said he would like to see locals find alternative employment and said he would support programs to put them in such positions.

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