October 27, 2005

At least 50 feared dead in Philippine mine collapse

MANILA (Reuters) - About 50 people were feared dead in the
Philippines when a tunnel in a gold mine collapsed after a
blast, police said on Thursday.

Police said they had pulled out five dead bodies after the
accident in the Mount Diwalwal region on the southern Mindanao
island late on Wednesday, adding that 11 people were injured.

Local radio said 18 people were believed to have died and
50 were trapped in the tunnel in an area where hundreds of
small illegal mines have been in operation for decades.

"They could be dead because it happened last night," Franco
Tito, a village chief, told radio interviews. He said a
powerful explosion was heard before the tunnel caved in.

Police said they were investigating the cause of the blast.
Rescue helicopters could not reach the site due to bad weather,
said Antonio Cloma, a disaster official.

Mount Diwalwal was a famous gold rush area in the 1980s and
became a mining town overnight with more than 30,000 people
operating illegal mines.