A gold mine has collapsed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, killing at least 60 workers.

The incident occurred on Monday after workers entered into an unsafe area of the mine, CNN reported, citing state-run television channel Ashorooq TV.

Haroun al-Hassan, the local commisssioner in Jebel Amir, north Darfur, said today: "The number of people who died is more than 60," adding that the search is ongoing.

It is not known how many people are still missing.

Authorities have shutdown operations at the site until further notice, while the rescue operations are underway.

Rescuers are using hand tools to reach the victims, as the use of machines might collapse the ground.

Fighting had broken out in January between two tribes over access to the mine in the Jebel Amir area of north Dafur, and authories closed it after more than 500 people were killed in the clashes. It has since reopened.

The fighting between the Beni Hussein and Rezeigat erupted when a leader of the latter tribe allegedly laid claim to a gold-rich area inside Beni Hussein territory, Amnesty International said.

Image: Gold has become a vital commodity for Sudan following the separation of South Sudan two years ago. Photo courtesy of Bertrand Rieger / Corbis.

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