A collapsed tunnel at a wildcat pit in southern Venezuela has killed at least six people and injured another two.

The accident occurred on 23 August when the men were using jackhammers to dig four tunnels in remote jungle near the town of El Callao in the mineral-rich south-eastern state of Bolivar.

Mining Minister Jose Khan said the men did not have permission to work at the abandoned Tomi mine.

The Tomi mine is riddled with hand-built tunnels where about 300 men work in small groups seeking underground gold veins.

The mine used to be operated by Toronto-based Crystallex International, which ceased mining at the site in 2008.

The government has used the army to crack down on illegal mining operations in the forests of southern Venezuela.

Venezuela has estimated gold reserves of more than 360t.