Three miners rescued after eight days at illegal gold mine in Honduras

Eight others are still missing and rescue workers have little idea where they are

Three men trapped for more than two days when a tunnel collapsed at an illegal gold mine in Honduras have been been brought out alive.

Cheers erupted among onlookers as the miners were carried out one by one in a rescue basket from the mouth of the mine at San Juan Arriba, 70 miles south of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

However, eight other miners are still missing since the collapse and rescue workers have little idea where they are or if they are still alive.

Moises Alvarado, the head of the Honduran emergency commission, said the rescued miners were in "relatively good health, though they are exhausted and showing signs of severe dehydration." They were named as Byron Maradiaga, Bryan Escalante, 20, and Nehemias Mendez, 28.

They had been trapped since Wednesday when a tunnel caved in about 270 feet from the entrance shortly after 22 miners had entered. Half were able to make their own way out but 11 were trapped.

Rescuers heard the shouts three of the trapped men and dug narrow tunnels to release them. Digging had to be done with picks, shovels and small pneumatic drills rather than heavy machinery because of the risk of further collapses.

The mine had been ordered to be closed several months ago by the Honduran mining authorities because of the dangerous conditions, including tunnels with neither supports nor lighting. Nevertheless, workers are attracted to gold mines in the region because they can earn three times the average wage.

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