Rescuers in Nicaragua working to reach trapped gold miners after 11 freed overnight

The freelance miners were trapped when tunnels collapsed at El Comal

Rescuers in Nicaragua are working to reach miners still trapped in a gold mine 24 hours after it collapsed.

The first 11 workers were freed on Friday night, walking out to cheers from relatives and fellow miners, but 13 are still underground.

Part of the El Comal gold and silver mine in the town of Bonanza collapsed on Thursday, cutting off men in a shaft.

One of the rescued miners, Marvin Urbina, said they saw an avalanche of mud and rock hurtling towards them and clung onto the walls of the mine as several colleagues were crushed.

“I asked God to let me live and he listened to me and now I will serve Him,” the 34-year-old told US Channel 6.

Nicaragua’s Interior Vice Minister, Carlos Najar, said the miners were dehydrated but in good health.

“They are coming out little by little, it's a slow process but we want to make sure they can get out safely,” he said.

A rescued miner is evacuated from the El Comal gold and silver mine A rescued miner is evacuated from the El Comal gold and silver mine Earlier, authorities said 20 of the 24 miners had been located and had communicated with rescuers.

Hundreds of relatives and fellow miners had gathered to pray outside the mine as rescuers lined up ladders along a 60-metre long tunnel leading towards where the men were trapped.

The mine cuts into the side of a mountain and tunnels move upwards into the rock.

Javier Amaya, a commander of the rescue operation, 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”.

Outside the mine, Jorge Hernandez, 25, said he learned his brother was one of the miners on television.

“We're praying to God with all of our souls so that my brother and the other men can be rescued alive and well,” he said.

It was unclear if he was one of the 11 miners rescued.

A miner enters the El Comal gold and silver mine to help with rescue operations after a landslide A miner enters the El Comal gold and silver mine to help with rescue operations after the landslide The gold and silver mine is operated by Colombian company Hemco but the trapped miners are freelancers allowed to work in the company's concession if they sell any gold they find to the firm.

A company spokesperson said they had been warned about the danger of working in the El Comal area, especially after two miners died in a landslide caused by rain last month.

“We live by extracting minerals from Hemco. They told us digging here was risky, but sometimes one is willing to risk it for a few more cents,” said Absalon Toledo, leader of the freelancers.

Hemco has mined in area since 1995, according to its website, and employs 532 workers who process 700 tonnes of material a day.

The company says it produces more than 1,150 kilograms of gold a year and is Nicaragua's 12th largest exporter.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?