Three miners rescued in Honduras, more remain trapped

Rescue workers outside the blocked entrance to the gold mine. 04/07/2014 Firefighters, volunteers and nearby residents have been helping with the rescue

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Rescue workers in Honduras have freed three miners trapped in an informal gold mine in the south of the country.

The miners were taken to a hospital nearby. At least one of them had suffered an injury to his head.

Rescue workers are still searching for eight other miners who remain trapped.

The men were cut off on Wednesday after a landslide blocked their tunnel exit at the small mine near the town of El Corpus, about 110km (70 miles) south of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Rescue workers do not know where the remaining eight miners are, or whether they are still alive.

Informal mines are common in Honduras but the lack of adequate safety means serious accidents are not unusual.

The mine is in an area prone to landslides and earthquakes.

On Thursday the authorities said that 11 men had been rescued from the mine, but they soon corrected the information.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras apologised for the "false report".

"The lack of communication in the area caused the rescue workers to give us false information," he said on Twitter, calling on people "not to lose hope" that the men would be rescued.

Miners and relatives take cover from the rain outside the mine. 04/07/2014 Bad weather and the risk of another landslide has hampered progress of the rescue operation

Firefighters, volunteers and people who live near the mine have been helping with the rescue, but their work was progressing slowly and with difficulty because of bad weather and the risk of another landslide.

Firefighter Oscar Triminio said he and his colleagues could not use heavy machinery because the mine "was unstable and could further collapse".

The accident happened in a vertical tunnel at a depth of about 80m (260ft), Mr Triminio continued.

The mayor of the nearby town of El Corpus, Luis Andres Rueda, said there were more than 50 informal mines in the area.

He estimated that hundreds of people use ladders to climb down into shafts as deep as 200m every day.

Armed with pickaxes, they hack away at the tunnel walls to try to extract minute gold nuggets from the soil.

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