Local media said anywhere from 10 to 18 miners were trapped when the rain-soaked hillside collapsed.

Handout photo released by the Fundacion del Rio of the site of landslide at
Handout photo released by the Fundacion del Rio of the site of landslide at "La Esperanza" mine in Rio San Juan department, Nicaragua, on December 4, 2020 (AFP)

Rescue workers have said they had recovered the bodies of two men trapped in the collapse in southern Nicaragua of an unlicensed gold mine.

The accident occurred in the La Esperanza region, more than 200 kilometres southeast of the capital Managua, authorities said on Saturday. 

The two victims, identified as Israel Sequeira and Santos Herrera, were from the Rio San Juan department, local government official Johnny Gutierrez told official website 19 Digital.

He said rescue work, involving police, firefighters and army troops, would wind up no later than Sunday. Gutierrez did not speculate on the fate of other miners caught in the collapse.

"We're working to rescue our brothers who may be in that collapse," Gutierrez said.

The official radio Nueva Ya said on Friday that at least 10 people were trapped, while news media cited numbers ranging from seven to 18.

Unlicensed mines

Amaru Ruiz, director of the non-profit Fundacion del Rio, told AFP news agency that the accident occurred on a hillside honeycombed by tunnels dug over the years for several unlicensed mines on private property.

An estimated 3,000 people work in Nicaragua's unlicensed mines.

Months of rain – including the devastating passage last month of hurricanes Eta and Iota – had saturated and weakened the clayey land, contributing to the collapse, Ruiz added.

Landslides last month in northern Nicaragua claimed at least seven lives.

Source: AFP