| SAN JUAN ARRIBA, Honduras, July 4
SAN JUAN ARRIBA, Honduras, July 4 Rescuers on
Friday were meters (yards) away from three miners trapped by a
landslide at an illegal gold mine in southern Honduras, but
eight more remained unaccounted for as the search moved well
into its second day.
The workers were trapped when the entrance to the mine in
San Juan Arriba collapsed on Wednesday. Officials said the mine,
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.
"We're about to rescue three of the trapped workers," said
Oscar Cruz, a spokesman for El Salvador's Green Cross, which
came to help with the search effort. "We're three or four meters
away from them and we're opening up a gap in the landslide to
pull them out."
Rescuers said they were in contact with the three men, who
told them they were scared, hungry, thirsty and suffering from
the heat. Emergency workers have been providing water to them.
Hundreds of family members surrounded the entrance to the
mine, watching rescue workers pulling debris from the scene of
the landslide as they awaited news of their loved ones.
Hopes of a major breakthrough surged on Wednesday night when
Honduran President Juan Hernandez sent a tweet from the scene,
saying that eight of the miners had been freed. However, shortly
afterwards he deleted the tweet and apologized for reporting
"The first 24 hours are vital in rescue operations and now
we're at 40 hours and the situation is worrying," fire services
spokesman Marco Artica told Reuters. "We're in contact with
three of the miners but we don't know where the other eight
The collapse occurred in a drought-stricken region of
Honduras that had been 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.
Honduran deputy environment minister Carlos Pineda told
local television the mine was illegal and that it had been
ordered closed by mining authorities several months ago.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by
Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Sandra Maler)