Miners kill 30 Amazon Indians

BRASILIA (AFP) - Illegal goldminers ordered to vacate mineral-rich Indian tribal lands shot and hacked to death 30 Yanomami men, women and children in the Amazonian jungle, authorities said yesterday.

Four survivors walked out of the jungle on Tuesday and reported the bloodbath that occurred in the Amazonian region near the Venezuelan border. The Justice Minister, Mauricio Correa, and Attorney-General, Aristides Junqueira, headed for the state of Roraima to investigate the slaughter and to ensure the protection of the survivors.

Gold and tin miners, known as garimpeiros, killed the Indians - including 10 children, whose throats were slit - after police tried to evict the miners from the Indians' tribal lands. It was the worst such attack in decades, highlighting the struggle between the often impoverished garimpeiros trying to scrape a living and Indians fighting to preserve their lands.

The initial death-toll of 19 was revised to 30 yesterday after the National Foundation of Indians (Funai), a government agency charged with protecting the Indians, received a fuller eyewitness account of the massacre at a Yanomami collective of between 70 and 100 people.

Helicopter teams searched for the massacre site but the Indians were unable to identify the location from the air, a Funai official said.