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At least 27 people have died in a fire at a small gold mine, operated by Yanaquihua, in Arequipa, Peru.

As per data from the Peruvian energy and mines ministry, the incident is said to be the country’s single deadliest mining accident since 2000, reported Reuters.

After a preliminary probe, the incident was found to have been set off by an explosion triggered by a short circuit.

The fire broke out in the early hours of 6 May, igniting the mine’s wooden supports, reported AFP. Reports said that the mine’s owner Yanaquihua has operated mines in the country for 23 years.

A statement from the owner said that 175 workers had been evacuated. The victims were stationed almost 100m underground when the blaze occurred, according to local media.

Citing local authorities, the BBC said that the closest police station was around 90 minutes away from the accident site while the closest city was many hours away. This is said to have hampered emergency work.

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By GlobalData

In September 2022, three miners were killed at a copper-zinc mine in Peru owing to a mudslide incident. The mine is owned by Canada’s Sierra Metals.

One worker was wounded in the incident.

Overall, 38 people died in different mining accidents across Peru last year.

The country’s mining sector saw its worst year in 2002, with a death toll of 73 in various accidents.

Peru is the top gold producer globally, and is also a key producer of silver, copper, and zinc.