PHNOM PENH —
Efforts continue to save an unknown number of people buried after a gold mine shaft collapsed in Preah Vihear province on Monday.
Local authorities said late Tuesday they had not reached the villagers or unearthed any dead bodies, but the digging efforts must be undertaken slowly and carefully.
At least seven people were thought to be in the shaft at the time of the collapse, including a local 18-year-old from Romtum village, Rovieng district.
“We have searched some holes in the shaft, but we’ve found no bodies yet,” Rovieng Police Chief Say Deth said Tuesday. “It’s a difficult process, because we are afraid that we might make the earth collapse on the workers.”
The abandoned shaft, left over from a Chinese mining company, has been mined by villagers since early May despite prohibition by authorities, said Kong Makara, head of the Preah Vihear provincial office of the Ministry of Industry.
“People insist on continuing [to mine], saying that they are poor,” he said.
Loa Chhan, a provincial rights investigator for Adhoc, said poverty has left villagers no choice but to take risks in the mine, despite its dangers.