Twenty trapped miners have been rescued from a gold mine after they were trapped following a landslide in northern Nicaragua, a government spokesperson said early Saturday. At least four more freelance workers are still missing, while efforts to rescue them entered a second day.
According to reports, at least 24 miners were trapped in the Bonanza project, some 260 miles northeast of Managua, after collapsing earth blocked a shaft in the mine. Deputy Interior Minister Carlos Najar said reportedly said that the miners were in good health as they carry enough food and water for the work day inside the mine, but some were slightly dehydrated, as they had spent about 34 hours in the mine.
"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, according to The Associated Press, or AP.
The rescue operation reportedly involved groups "of five or 10 miners entering the mine on wooden ladders, tying themselves off and going in until they reach them,” Commander Javier Amaya of the rescue team, said, according AP.
Colombian firm Hemco, the owner of the mine reportedly said that they had recently discovered that the mine was unsafe, adding that the miners were not directly employed by the company.
The firm also said, according to BBC, that the miners were warned about the safety issues in the mine after two men had died in a landslide last month.
According to AP, which cited the company’s website, the Bonanza project produces about more than 2,500 pounds (1,150 kilograms, 37,000 troy ounces) of gold a year.
"We're praying to God with all of our souls so that my brother and the other men can be rescued alive and well," Jorge Hernandez, 25, said, according to AP, after learning that his brother was trapped in the mine.
According to authorities, the workers were reportedly believed to be about 165 feet below the surface.