The collapse of an illegal gold mine in the Memba district in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, has left eight dead and many more trapped.
Nampula province administrator Felisberta Joaquim was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the illegal operation started two months ago after local communities discovered gold in the Memba district.
"We believe there were about 60 people inside the 12m-deep hole," Joaquim said.
"The others are still buried under the sand. While people are digging manually to retrieve the miners, the authorities will send in equipment and teams to help with the rescue effort."
Nampula province police spokesman Miguel Bartolomeu said: "They have been underground for three days and we do not know if they are alive."
Provincial authorities had sent firefighters and police to help in the rescue effort.
Among the victims include miners from Mozambique and Tanzania.
Illegal gold mining is prevalent in Mozambique, particularly in the provinces of Manica and Niassa.
Mozambique has high mineral deposits, including gold, diamonds, titanium and precious stones, in addition to large reserves of natural gas.
According to the neighbouring South African Government's estimates, there are around 14,000 people involved in illegal mining in the country, among which, the majority of workers are from Mozambique.