At the least 16 folks died when an the unlawful gold mine collapsed within the jungles of southern Venezuela, officers stated Wednesday, revising an earlier determine.

The incident occurred on Tuesday on the “Bulla loca” mine within the state of Bolivar, a seven-hour boat journey from the closest city, La Paragua, the place members of the family had been anxiously ready for information.

Officers gave conflicting accounts of the demise toll.

Illegal gold mining collapses in Venezuela
Members of the Venezuelan Nationwide Guard collect on the banks of the Port of the Guacara River on February 21, 2024 after the collapse the day earlier than of an unlawful gold mine in La Paragua, Bolivar, Venezuela.


The secretary of the safety of the residents of Bolivar State, Edgar Colina Reyes, stated that 16 folks had died. President Nicolas Maduro stated 11 others had been injured.

“I convey my condolences to the households and mates of those individuals who sadly died on this accident,” Maduro stated on state tv.

However earlier within the day, Yorgi Arciniega, mayor of the municipality of Angostura, informed AFP that about 23 our bodies had been recovered, together with 15 that had arrived by boat in La Paragua and about eight others on their journey.

The Deputy Minister of Civil Safety Carlos Perez Ampueda posted a video of the incident on X and referred to “a large crowd”, though he didn’t present numbers. About 200 folks had been thought to have labored on the mine, based on officers.

The video confirmed dozens of individuals working within the shallow waters of an open pit mine when an earthen wall slowly collapses on prime of them. Some managed to flee whereas others had been swallowed up.

Miner Carlos Marcano, 71, referred to as the scenario on the mine “terrifying.”

In Paraguay on Wednesday, he informed the Related Press, “I didn't desire a colleague, a human being, to die like that. A few of us did it. There are just a few injured, however there are nonetheless plenty of lifeless who weren’t saved and are buried there.”

Mayor Arciniega, who had beforehand spoken of 15 injured folks, stated 4 had been taken by boat to La Paragua since Wednesday afternoon to obtain therapy.

Colina Reyes stated the injured had been transported to a hospital within the regional capital Ciudad Bolivar, 4 hours from La Paragua, which is 460 kilometers southeast of the capital Caracas.

Ready for phrase

Kinfolk waited on the shore for information of their breadwinners.

“My brother, my brother, my brother,” cried one when he noticed a physique being thrown from a ship.

Illegal gold mining collapses in Venezuela
Folks collect on the banks of the port of the Guacara River in Deb. On the twenty first of 2024, whereas ready for details about the miners after the collapse the day earlier than an unlawful gold mine in La Paragua, Bolivar, Venezuela.


“We count on them to assist us with helicopters to take out the wounded,” a girl ready for information about her brother-in-law, a father of three, informed AFP.

Reyes stated the army, firefighters and different organizations had been “shifting into the world by air” to evaluate the scenario.

Rescue groups had been additionally introduced in from Caracas to assist in the search.

“We’re assessing the harm and doing a security evaluation,” added Ampueda.

In December final 12 months, no less than 12 folks had been killed when a mine collapsed within the indigenous group of Ikabaru in the identical area.

“Sure to Occur”

The Bolivar area is wealthy in gold, diamonds, iron, bauxite, quartz and coltan. Along with the state-owned mines, there’s additionally a rising trade of unlawful mining.

“This was sure to occur,” resident Robinson Basanta informed AFP of the unsafe working circumstances of the miners, most of whom dwell in excessive poverty.

“This mine has yielded numerous gold. … Folks go there out of necessity, to make ends meet,” he stated.

Activists denounce “ecocide” within the space and the exploitation of kids who work lengthy hours with out safety.

Final 12 months, Venezuelan armed forces kicked out about 14,000 unlawful miners from the Yapacana Nationwide Park within the neighboring state of Amazonas.

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