At least 16 dead in Venezuela illegal mine collapse

Incident happened at ‘Bulla loca’ mine in state of Bolivar

LA PARAGUA  -  At least 16 people died when an illegal gold mine collapsed in the jungles of southern Venezuela, officials said Wednesday revising down an ear­lier figure. The incident happened Tuesday at the “Bulla loca” mine in the state of Bolivar, a seven-hour boat ride from the nearest town, La Paragua, where family members waited anxiously for news.

Officials gave conflicting accounts of the num­ber of dead. The Bolivar state’s secretary of citi­zen security, Edgar Colina Reyes, said 16 people were dead. President Nicolas Maduro said another 11 were injured. “I convey my condolences to the families and friends of these people who unfortu­nately died in this accident,” Maduro said on state television. But earlier in the day, Yorgi Arciniega, mayor of the Angostura municipality, told AFP that about 23 bodies had been recovered, including 15 that had arrived by boat in La Paragua and about another eight on their way. Deputy Minister of civil protection Carlos Perez Ampueda published a video of the incident on X, and referred to “a mas­sive” toll, though providing no numbers. Some 200 people were thought to have been working in the mine, according to officials.

The video showed dozens of people working in the shallow waters of an open pit mine when a wall of earth slowly collapses upon them. Some managed to flee while others were engulfed.

Mayor Arciniega, who had earlier spoken of 15 people injured, said four had been brought by boat to La Paragua by Wednesday afternoon to receive treatment. Colina Reyes said the injured were being transported to a hospital in the re­gional capital Ciudad Bolivar, four hours from La Paragua, which lies 750 kilometers (460 miles) southeast of the capital Caracas.

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