ColombiaOne.comWorldAt Least 30 Dead After Illegal Mine Collapses in Venezuela

At Least 30 Dead After Illegal Mine Collapses in Venezuela


illegal mine Venezuela
At least 30 dead after illegal mine collapse in Venezuela – Credit: Thirteenth Brigade Press

At least 30 people were killed by the collapse of an unauthorized gold mine in Venezuela. The incident occurred at a mine widely referred to as “Bulla Loca,” situated in La Paragua, within Angostura municipality, Bolivar state, in the southeast of the country. As of now, the death toll stands at 30, with concerns that the figure might rise. Authorities speculate that around 100 people might still be trapped.

The injured have been transported to a hospital in Ciudad Bolivar, the capital city of the province, situated roughly 200 kilometers from the landslide location. It is estimated that around 200 miners were working at the site, as reported by AFP news agency. Authorities fear the death toll might surpass 50.

The danger of illegal mining

The word “bulla” in Venezuela is used by miners when they find a vein of gold. Bulla is a new deposit. Illegal mining, a sad reality very frequent in Venezuela and other countries in the region, is an activity that, in addition to being a source of significant contamination of land and water sources, poses a high risk to the lives of those who work there.

Without the minimum safety measures, accidents have occurred recently, although not on the scale of this tragedy, which occurred on the night of Tuesday February 20.

The mining region of Bolivar, which covers a portion of the Amazon, has an area of 112,000 km2 with large reserves of gold, diamonds, iron, bauxite, quartz and coltan. In the last year, the Venezuelan Armed Forces evicted some 14,000 illegal miners from the Yapacana National Park, located in neighboring Amazonas state, but illegal mining continues to be unstoppable, despite the obvious risks involved.

Last December, at least twelve people died after the collapse of a mine in the indigenous community of Ikabaru in the same state, where days earlier a “partial collapse” had occurred with no fatalities.

Undetermined number of victims

The authorities have not yet given an exact number of victims. Mayor Arciniega stated yesterday that “there is talk of 30 dead and 100 wounded”. For his part, the Secretary of Citizen Security of Bolivar, Edgar Colina, told AFP agency that “a multidisciplinary team (…) Bolivarian National Armed Forces, firefighters, civil protection and several citizen security agencies are embarking to move to the area by air and make a real assessment of the situation on the ground”.

The situation’s severity is further highlighted by the transfer of dozens of injured individuals to Ciudad Bolivar, the state capital, approximately 200 kilometers from the accident site. Additionally, a rescue team from Caracas, nearly 800 kilometers away, reached the area to assist.

“We are doing damage assessment and rescue analysis and working on a plan,” insisted the Vice Minister of Risk Management and Civil Protection, Carlos Perez Ampueda, in statements to AFP.

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