An urgent search operation is underway to free five miners who became trapped in an unlicensed gold and silver mine in Nicaragua, after it collapsed on Thursday due to a landslide.
Rescuers have successfully saved 22 workers since heavy rainfall caused the landslide at the Bonanza project in northern Nicaragua. There were 27 miners working in the shaft 800m underground when the mine caved in.
Nicaragua presidential spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said: "We are monitoring the situation, following up on all efforts to find the five or seven companions."
The rescued workers were treated by paramedics and have been taken to a clinic in Bonanza.
The unlicensed gold and silver mine is located on a concession held by HEMCO; a mining company owned by Colombia-based Minero.
According to Hemco spokesman Gregorio Downs, the trapped miners were freelancers who were allowed to work in the area on the condition that that they sell the gold they recover from the area to the company, reported The Associated Press.
Mining workers leader Absalon Toledo said: "We live by extracting mineral from Hemco.
"They told us digging here was risky, but sometimes one is willing to risk it for a few more cents."
According to Mineros, the Bonanza mine had recently been hit by seasonal rains, causing several landslides. Another two mine workers were killed in the same manner two months ago.