After a frantic day-and-night search lasting more than a month, rescue teams have found the bodies of four of the eight miners trapped underground in Burkina Faso.
"Many have tears in their eyes, everybody is disappointed," Bama Antoine, the families' spokesperson, told the BBC.
"Hope is gone now," he added.
They were working at the Perkoa zinc mine when flood water trapped them at a depth of more than 520m.
A forensic doctor is on site to help identify the four men.
The bodies were found in cavities near a rescue chamber that was opened last week, Mr Bama added.
Hopes that the miners would be found alive faded after none of them were located in the safety room, which is around 570m below ground. It is stocked with oxygen, water and snacks.
There is a second rescue chamber towards the bottom of the mine, which is more than 700m deep.
The families have not yet seen the bodies, and they have been put in cold storage, Mr Bama said.
"If they've not been identified until now that means they were found in a poor state," he continued.
The families of the missing workers had been gathering near the site and formed a support group where they would pray and hope for their loved ones to be found alive.
Despite the chances of a positive outcome receding by the day, some of the relatives continued to hope the miners would be found alive. "We will stay here until our husbands get out of the hole," Edith Moné, a wife of one of the missing men, told the BBC last week.
The boss of the Canadian-owned mine expressed his sadness at the deaths.
"Our deepest condolences are with our colleagues' families during this difficult time, and all of us at Trevali grieve their loss," said its head, Ricus Grimbeek.
According to Trevali, families are being notified as each worker is recovered and identified. Senior representatives of Trevali and the Perkoa Mine mining contractor Byrnecut are in regular contact with the families of all eight workers and will continue to offer support.
As of 20 May, rescue crews were around 610m deep into the mine and 14 million gallons (63 million litres) of water had been extracted. There is still 100 million litres left to be pumped. A search continues to find the other four miners, but it is difficult to predict when they will be found.
Trevali and the Burkinabè government have launched investigations into the causes of the incident.