Some 20 miners are reportedly trapped inside the Isidora gold mine in the El Peru section, near El Callao, southern Venezuela, after the gallery caved on Monday.
Minerven had restricted access to the Isidora mine before the accident, but unofficial reports said the trapped miners broke into the site unlawfully to extract gold, apparently a common practice in the chaotic world of Venezuelan gold mines where massacres and environmental disasters are common.
Human Rights Watch reported recently that miners are subjected to amputations and other atrocious abuses carried out by the armed groups that control gold mines in this region of Venezuela, including the Venezuelan gold gangs and Colombian criminal guerrilla organizations.
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“The armed groups seem to act in general with the acquiescence and in some cases the participation of the -Maduro- government to maintain an iron control of the local population,” HRW wrote.
The mine belongs to Minerven, a U.S sanctioned gold mining company and controlled by the Nicolas Maduro regime.
An initial government report issued by the Redan civilian defense network says 20 miners are there and so far authorities have been unable to rescue them. Reports have some of the trapped miners already dead or injured, but El Pitazo couldn’t confirm yet.
Fire and rescue brigades from Minerven, the El Callao municipality and other entities are attempting the rescue, so far with no luck.
The U.S has since last year banned dealing in Venezuelan oil, arguing that its extraction is controlled by the Maduro regime as a means of financing itself.