Death toll rises to four in Colombia mine disaster

Rescue workers on Saturday recovered the body of a fourth miner killed in a landslide at an illegal gold mine in western Colombia, leaving a dozen others still unaccounted for.

AFP| Last Updated: May 04, 2014, 03:06 AM IST

Santander De Quilichao(Colombia): Rescue workers on Saturday recovered the body of a fourth miner killed in a landslide at an illegal gold mine in western Colombia, leaving a dozen others still unaccounted for.

The latest body was taken out in a white plastic bag and transferred to the nearby town of Santander de Quilichao, in the department of Cauca.

Carlos Ivan Marquez, a Red Cross official, said the toll from Wednesday`s landslide is now four dead and 12 missing.
Rescuers said yesterday they believe they have located bodies of the missing some 30 meters below the surface, with the aid of sniffer dogs.

Anguished relatives have looked on from behind a security perimeter as a half-dozen backhoes clawed at the earth to try to get to the missing.

"I`m waiting for them to retrieve my brother and his wife, who are buried below," said one miner at the site.

Miners had been laboring with hand tools to extract gold from the open pit mine when it was hit by an avalanche of mud, rock, and earth.

The mine employed local men and women, sometimes from the same families, but neither the workers nor the facility were properly credentialed, officials said.

Colombia has more than 14,000 mines, more than half of which operate without proper permits, officials said. The government even has confiscated heavy excavation equipment at some illegal sites.
It was the second mining accident in Colombia in less than a week.
Last Saturday in the northwestern department of Antioquia, four miners died from inhaling toxic gas in an unlicensed mine.