Rescue workers end search for eight trapped Honduran gold miners

SAN JUAN ARRIBA Honduras Mon Jul 7, 2014 2:45pm EDT

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SAN JUAN ARRIBA Honduras (Reuters) - Rescue workers on Monday gave up their search for eight missing miners trapped by a landslide at an illegal Honduran gold mine last week.

Eleven miners were initially trapped when the entrance to the mine in San Juan Arriba was suddenly blocked off by the landslide last Wednesday.

Rescuers freed three of the miners on Friday but held out little hope for the other eight, despite slow-moving efforts over the weekend to find them.

"The search and rescue operation has been definitively suspended due to the danger of further landslides in the mine. We can't risk more lives," said emergency services spokesman Ulises Alvarado.

Emergency workers said they smelled foul odors coming from the mine during a search on Friday.

Officials said the mine, about 70 miles (110 km) south of the Central American nation's capital Tegucigalpa, had been ordered to close a few months ago because it was unsafe.

The incident occurred in a drought-stricken region of Honduras that was once a gold mining center for Spanish colonists. The rise in gold prices in recent years had spurred dozens of small mines to open in the area.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Tom Brown)

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