Nicaragua miners: Search for missing men suspended

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Rescued miner in Nicaragua, 30 Aug 14Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The miners were approximately 200m (650ft) underground when the cave-in happened

Rescue teams in Nicaragua have suspended their efforts to locate seven men trapped by a cave-in at a gold mine on Thursday.

Government officials said that a new landslide has made it unsafe for the rescue work to proceed.

Twenty-two men survived the accident with minor injuries.

The El Comal mine was closed, but freelance miners had ignored safety warnings and continued to dig for gold underground.

The cave-in happened under heavy rain on Thursday morning near Bonanza, a town 420km (260 miles) north-east of the capital Managua.

Two men managed to dig themselves out of the rubble hours later and 20 others were pulled out alive by rescue teams.

But another landslide on Sunday night led to the suspension of the search for the seven missing men.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Relatives and friends of the trapped miners have gathered at the mine's entrance to wait for news

"The experts had to accept that it was impossible to carry on with the search," said Nicaragua's First Lady and government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo.

"Continuing with the work would mean risking the lives of so many people," she added.

The mine was previously operated by Hemco, the Nicaraguan subsidiary of Colombian miner Mineros SA.

Hemco said it had condemned the area where the miners became trapped after inspectors recently found it to be unsafe.

Two miners died there last month in a landslide caused by heavy rain.

The freelance form of mining is legal in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Latin America, to enable more people to profit from the industry.