Nicaraguan rescuers have saved 22 of at least 26 workers trapped in a mine collapse and were working to find the rest. First lady Rosario Murillo said 20 of the miners were freed late yesterday, in addition to two who made their way to safety shortly after the Thursday morning collapse cut off the exit at the El Comal gold and silver mine in the town of Bonanza. The miners were dehydrated but in otherwise good health. Rescued miner Marvin Urbina, 34, said he and some of his fellow miners saw an avalanche of mud and rock coming their way. They stuck to the walls of the mine, but he thinks at least four of their co-workers were crushed.
The gold and silver mine is on a concession held by Hemco, which is owned by Colombia-based Minero SA. But the trapped miners themselves are freelancers allowed to work in the area if they sell any gold they find to the firm, says a company spokesman. He says the company had warned miners about the danger of working in the El Comal area, especially after two miners died in a rain-caused landslide there last month. Hundreds of relatives and fellow miners had gathered to pray outside the mine as rescuers lined up several ladders along a 200-foot long tunnel leading toward where the men were trapped. (Read more Nicaragua stories.)