URGENT Ecuador Mining Disaster Kills at Least 30
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ A cave-in at a gold mine on an isolated mountainside in southern Ecuador buried 50 miners Thursday, police said, and a provincial official said 30 miners may had died.
Authorities had not reached the site late Thursday and there were no confirmed casualty figures. Floro Regalado, prefect of Zamora Chicipe province, estimated 30 deaths and said news of the accident had arrived with messengers from the mine.
Police, quoting survivors, said 50 miners were buried.
The disaster occurred at the Nambija mine, on a mountainside four hours by foot from the town of Zamora, capital of Zamora Chincipe and about 435 miles south of Quito, the capital.
″Doctors are urgently needed to treat the injured,″ Regalado, the area’s chief administrative officer, told Radio Centinela, a station in the nearby city of Loja.
″We are carrying out a mission to remove the bodies,″ he said. He said authorities had long feared a cave-in at El Playon, the sector of the mine where the accident occurred.
Authorities had closed and condemned the mine, which dates to the colonial era, but miners have continued to work it for the last 10 years, said Regalado.
Doctors and rescue equipment were being sent to the isolated mine, said police Lt. Renan Velasco in a telephone interview from Zamora with The Associated Press.
Some 10,000 people live in the area of Nambija, a hillside with dozens of mine shafts that are exploited by free-lancers despite the great danger.
Experts say the mountainous region is rife with perforated rock strata that makes traditional mining unsafe.