Authorities confirm the toll of 16 deaths due to mine collapse in Bolívar

Residents carry an injured person from the collapsed Bulla Loca mine | EFE

Venezuelan authorities confirmed this Friday the death toll of 16 due to the collapse of an illegal gold mine in the state of Bolívar and announced that 208 people were evacuated from the area, while search efforts continue.

The accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon at the Bulla Loca mine, in the state of Bolívar. Dozens of miners were working in the open-pit quarry when a landslide fell, sweeping away several of them, according to a video released by government officials.

«No more deaths have been reported (…). We ask God not to find anything and in two days (of searching after the event) we have not found anything,” the governor of Bolívar said at a press conference. Angel Marcanoby dismissing reports about a greater number of victims.

“I don’t hide the truth,” added Marcano, who stated that, to date, the collapse also left 16 injured.

The regional governor announced upcoming meetings with mining communities in the area to “organize” their activity: “We must remove them from illegality,” he said, and to do so we must “create safe conditions in their work.”

Emergency care teams will remain in the area for a month, he said.

The Mining Arc region, which covers a portion of the Amazon, has an area of ​​112,000 km2 with large reserves of gold, diamonds, iron, bauxite, quartz and coltan. It is an area that the State exploits, but it also registers the presence of illegal groups and criminal gangs, according to complaints from environmentalists, who maintain the activity is causing an “ecocide.”

The NGO SOS Orinoco recorded 54 deaths in 17 mining incidents between 2017 and 2022 in Bolívar and the neighboring state of Amazonas.

At least 12 people died last December after the collapse of a mine in the indigenous community of Ikabarú (Bolívar).

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