NICARAGUA NEWS – Most of 24 trapped Nicaraguan gold miners have been freed after a mine collapse, officials said.
The miners were slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health said Deputy Interior Minister Carlos Najjar .
The men walked out of the mine on their own as their relatives and fellow miners cheered late Friday night, more than 24 hours after a collapse at the El Comal gold and silver mine in the town of Bonanza left them cut off in a mine shaft.
“They are coming out little by little, it’s a slow process but we want to make sure they can get out safely,” Najar told Channel 6 state television. He added that more of the miners are expected to be rescued overnight.
Commander Javier Amaya of the rescue team said the rescue plan involved groups “of five or 10 miners entering the mine on wooden ladders, tying themselves off and going in until they reach them.”
It is not known if the remaining miners have been located yet.
They were trapped when a shaft at the El Comal mine collapsed after heavy rains on Thursday. The mine lies near Bonanza, a town 420km (260 miles) north-east of the capital Managua.
The men were reportedly freelance miners who were not directly employed by a mining company.
The mine’s owner, Colombian firm Hemco, said it had recently found the mine to be unsafe.
The mine had been severely affected by seasonal rains in the past, the company added, with another landslide two months ago killing two miners.
The Bonanza project, which began in 1995, produces around 37,300 troy ounces of gold a year, according to Hemco’s website.