Illegal mine collapse buries gold workers in the Venezuelan Amazon

Illegal mining operation in Venezuela’s Amazon. (Image by GJ. Domingo Hernández Lárez, Twitter.)

The collapse of an illegal mine in a remote region of the Venezuelan Amazon buried gold workers, leaving many injured and feared dead.

Officials on Tuesday reported the collapse at the Bulla Loca mine in Bolivar state in the south of the country, but haven’t yet said how many people were affected. Local mayor Yorgi Arciniega estimated that about 30 people may have lost their lives.

Medical staff have requested help to transport the injured and corpses to a hospital and local morgue, said Americo De Grazia, an ecologist and former lawmaker from Bolivar, speaking by phone.

Illegal gold mining boomed in Venezuela as the economy suffered one of the deepest slumps in modern world history from 2013 and 2020. The industry has mostly attracted vulnerable Venezuelans, lured by the riches of the deposits. Frequent accidents and the presence of mafia and guerrilla groups prompt occasional raids by the authorities.

Thousands of people die in mining accidents each year around the world, with informal operations in developing countries particularly vulnerable to accidents.

(By Andreina Itriago Acosta and Fabiola Zerpa)


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