Gold mine fire kills at least 27 in Peru

May 7, 2023   -BBC News-At least 27 people have died in a gold mine fire in Peru, in the worst mining accident in the country in decades.

Officials said two people were rescued from the blaze, but no more survivors are expected to be found.

An electrical short-circuit is thought to have sparked the fire inside the La Esperanza mine in the Arequipa region.

Some 30 specialist officers are headed to the scene to secure the mine itself before beginning recovery efforts, local media report.

Photos and video from local media showed flames and smoke erupting from the hillside site on Saturday.

It is believed that miners were working at least some 80 to 100 metres (330ft) below the surface when the blaze broke out.

In a statement, the regional government said the closest police station was some 90 minutes away from the remote site, and several hours from the closest city, complicating the emergency response.

Peruvian newspaper La República reports that relatives of the missing miners arrived at the scene Sunday morning, but have been denied access to the site.

The mining company itself – a small operation named Yanaquihua – has yet to comment on the disaster.

Peru is one of the world’s largest gold producers, mining more than 100 tonnes a year – or about 4% of the entire world’s annual supply.

While Saturday’s fire is believed to be the worst disaster in years, dozens of deaths a year are not uncommon in the country’s mining industry – usually spread over many smaller incidents.

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