Eleven bodies were recovered almost a month after an illegal mine in north-western Colombia collapsed, authorities said on Sunday.
“The dedication … of the more than 40 members of the mining rescue team @ANMColombia and emergency agencies allowed the recovery of the bodies of the 11 victims of the accident that occurred in Neira, Caldas,” Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Diego Mesa tweeted.
“We are wholeheartedly with the families of these 11 young people and the entire community of the village of El Bosque and the municipality of Irra. We are with you in these difficult times,” Mesa said in another tweet.
Teams have been trying to reach people trapped in an illegal mine in Neira, in the department of Caldas, for 24 days, authorities said. According to the newspaper El Espectador, this amounts to the longest rescue effort ever undertaken in the country.
The first body was reportedly found on Saturday morning.
The workers got trapped on March 26 after heavy rains caused the river Cauca to overrun, flooding the illegal mine, according to Mesa.
Illegal mining is a problem in several Latin American countries, and severe accidents repeatedly happen in the insufficiently secured shafts. The activity is also responsible for environmental damage.