An illegal gold mine has collapsed in the south-west region of the Cauca province in Colombia, leaving three people dead and more than 30 trapped beneath the debris.
Cauca province Governor Temistocles Ortega was quoted by The Telegraph as saying that the collapse occurred shortly before midnight in a rural area near Santander de Quilichao, about 190 miles south-west of capital Bogota.
According to the municipal police chief Felipe Chacon, three bodies and three injured persons have been recovered from the site, and rescuers are continuing to search for missing people.
Workers from the police force, army, civil defence and the Red Cross are all engaged in the rescue mission.
According to the Colombian media, the terrain is covered by tonnes of mud and stones so trained search dogs are being used to find for trapped miners.
Although the cause of the accident is unknown, it is assumed that miners who used machinery to dig holes to extract gold had caused one of the excavation walls to collapse.
Cauca state fire fighters head Victor Claros was quoted by local media as saying that the independent mine workers were excavating without authorisation.
According to Colombia authorities, Colombia has more than 14,000 mines and more than half are operating illegally.
Justice officials said that illegally operated mines pose a risk to the authorised workers who enter them.
"The conditions of informal labor and informal infrastructure pose a latent risk to workers," officials said.
The incident comes one week after four miners were killed in another illegal gold mine collapse in Antioquia.