Rescuers in Colombia have recovered the bodies of 11 people killed after an illegal goldmine flooded almost a month ago, an official said Sunday.
The group was trapped on March 26, when the 17-meter (55-foot) deep shaft flooded in a heavy downpour.“With the mining rescue team… they managed to recover the 11 bodies that are already at the disposal of the authorities,” said National Mining Agency (ANM) president Juan Miguel Duran in a video sent to the press on Sunday.
The rescue — originally expected to take less than 48 hours — was delayed by further flooding in the area around the mine, located on the banks of the Cauca River in a rural area in northwestern Colombia.
The first bodies were recovered early Saturday morning.
Duran expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and called for efforts “to avoid other tragedies.”
Mining accidents are common in Colombia, where income from illegally-extracted gold exceeds that from drug trafficking — practices that funded armed groups that fought a near six-decade conflict from which the country is still recovering.
So far this year, 46 miners have died, according to the ANM, and 171 last year.