Four men trapped after Ecuador mine collapses

Rescue efforts are underway to save 4 miners trapped 490 feet underground after a tunnel in an Ecuador mine collapsed Friday.

A tunnel collapsed in a gold mine in southern Ecuador on Friday, trapping four miners 490 feet (150 meters) underground. Authorities said rescue efforts were under way.

A miner who survived the cave-in told authorities that four of his colleagues remain trapped in the mine, located near the city of Portovelo, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Quito. The mine is operated by the Ecuadorean company Minesadco.

The collapse happened at 3:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. EDT; 0830 GMT) and blocked a tunnel, trapping the workers at the fifth level of the mine, Deputy Mining Minister Jorge Espinosa said. The condition of the men was unknown.

Espinosa said that 50 rescue workers were digging out the main tunnel while others were preparing to possibly dig a hole from the side to reach the gallery where the miners are believed to be trapped.

A statement from the Ministry of Nonrenewable Resources said a crisis committee is coordinating rescue efforts at the Casa Negra mine concession.

It identified the miners as Paul Aguirre, Pedro Mendoza, Walter Vera and Angel Vera.

The mine collapse comes two days after the near-flawless rescue of 33 miners trapped for 69 days nearly a half-mile (1 kilometer) underground in the San Jose mine in Chile, a drama that transfixed the world.

In Colombia, one miner died in an explosion and a second when a rock fell on him, in two separate mines in the country's central and western regions, authorities said Friday. In the country's northeast, rescuers were still working Friday to free two miners who had been trapped for four days in a coal mine. Their condition was unknown.

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