60 Ecuador miners trapped after blast

Sixty miners were trapped overnight in an underground gold mine in southern Ecuador after an explosion there killed at least one person, officials said.

60 Ecuador miners trapped after blast
Rescue efforts at the mine were suspended Monday night but operations were to resume Tuesday morning, according to Segundo Guillen, a firefighter from the nearby town of Machala.

Police subofficial Luis Castillo at Ponce Enriquez denied reports that more bodies had been recovered. He told the Associated Press telephone from the blast site that there was only one confirmed death but that rescue workers may find more "in the light of day."

Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea said the mine — located in the village of Ponce Enriquez, 230 miles southwest of Quito — was run by a local cooperative with "limited safety" measures in place.

Ponce Enriquez police officer Jose Pazmino told the AP that 40 people were injured, many of them seriously.

"Everyone from Machala is in the mountains, where the mine is, trying to help in any way they can," Pazmino said.

Pazmino said the explosion occurred at 7 p.m. local time in the Liga de Oro mine's munitions storehouse, "but at the moment we don't know what set off the blast."

Machala is 15 minutes away from the mine by vehicle, but the explosion was so powerful it could be heard in the town's center, said Guillen, the firefighter.

Larrea promised an immediate response from the government.

"We expect that in the coming hours we will be able to offer help to those buried in the mine," the interior minister said.

The explosion "demonstrates the need for responsible mining in Ecuador," Larrea said.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2007, 18:18
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