At least 37 miners have died after heavy rains caused a gold mine to collapse in the Ndassima region of the Central African Republic.

The incident occurred on Sunday, when miners were working in the pit, about 440km east of the capital Bangui, according to a presidential spokesman.

Prosper Ndouba said that rescue workers had saved ten injured miners but heavy rains led to the death of almost "40 of our compatriots".

"It is to be feared that the casualty toll may unfortunately rise in the next few hours or coming days," Ndouba said on local radio.

An unnamed local official told the AFP news agency that there is no hope of finding any survivors in the mine.

Several miners had been working beneath the surface of the gold mine, which turned into a muddy swamp when they were trapped inside the pit.

CAR is rich in gold and diamonds but the country is poor and has endured decades of unrest, with rebels attempting to topple the president in March.

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