Sudan Jebel Amir gold mine collapse rescue called off

The search for some 100 workers trapped in a collapsed gold mine in Sudan's Darfur region has been called off.

The rescue operation at the 40m (131ft) deep Jebel Amir mine was deemed too dangerous, witnesses said.

On Friday nine rescuers became trapped and are now presumed dead. No survivors have been found since Monday's collapse at the North Darfur mine.

Some 100,000 people fled fighting after rival Arab groups fought for control of the mine in February.

"Today the searching has stopped because it was too dangerous," a miner in Jebel Amir district, some 200 km (125 miles) north-west of North Darfur's state capital El Fasher, told AFP news agency.

He said eight bodies had been recovered, but it was not clear whether they were rescuers or miners.

"According to what I got from my people here yesterday, they didn't find anybody (else)," he said.

Gold has become a key commodity for Sudan since the oil-rich south seceded.

Traditional, small-scale mines in the country reportedly produced more than £1.3bn worth of gold in 2012, and Sudan hopes to produce about 50 tonnes of gold this year, making it Africa's third-largest gold miner, Reuters news agency reports.

The industry has boosted foreign earnings which tumbled after most of its oilfields went to South Sudan at independence in 2011, losing Sudan three-quarters of its oil production.

More than a million people have been living in camps for the displaced in Darfur, after a decade of fighting.

Violence in the region has come down from its peak after civil war broke out in 2003, but there are still clashes between government forces, rebels, bandits and rival ethnic groups.

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