SAN JUAN ARRIBA Honduras (Reuters) - Rescuers said there was little hope that eight miners trapped underground in an illegal Honduran gold mine would be found alive, after rescue efforts were suspended on Saturday due to the risk of new landslides.
Rescue workers said they had smelled foul odors coming from the mine during an operation on Friday to free three of the 11 workers trapped by a landslide at the mine in San Juan Arriba on Wednesday.
There have been no signs of life from the eight still missing and their location in the mine, a labyrinth of vertical and horizontal tunnels, is unknown.
“More than 60 hours have passed now and its difficult to think that they are alive,” rescue spokesman Oscar Triminio told Reuters.
Rescue operations have been suspended since Friday night due to the risk of new landslides inside the mine trapping rescue workers, Trimonio said.
He added that a decision was still being taken on whether to continue efforts or bring in heavy machinery, which would only be used if there was no hope of finding workers alive.
“There are very strong smells of decomposing substances, but we cannot say yet whether it is the bodies,” Triminio said.
Teams from Guatemala and El Salvador are helping with the Honduran rescue efforts.
The mine is in a mountainous area in southern Honduras where a vast network of underground tunnels make up more than 50 mines. Small-scale gold extraction has been revived in the area in recent years due to higher gold prices.
“I pray to God that they get him out to me ... so that I can bury him in a dignified way,” Rosa Carcamo, whose 17-year-old nephew Yovany Carcamo was one of the eight still trapped, told local media.
Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Stephen Powell