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Seven Feared Trapped in Cambodian Gold Mine Collapse

A man rides a motorcycle past a signboard for the Cambodia Iron Group at the Rovieng District in Preah Vihear province, February 10, 2013.
A gold mine shaft has collapsed in the Preah Vihear province of Cambodia, trapping at least seven miners, officials said Monday.

Police said late Monday they are trying to rescue the trapped miners, near Romtum village, Rovieng district, but the shaft is very deep and old, making rescue efforts difficult.

“We don’t have the identities or the exact number of people, but we expect a lot,” Rovieng Police Chief Sin Thorn told VOA Khmer service.

Only one family in Romtum village was able to identify a trapped miner, an 18-year-old man, he said. “There are other villagers from different provinces.”

The collapse took place in a shaft that is typically mined by up to 60 people at a time, he said. Sin Thorn said he has warned villagers against mining there in the past, “but they never listen to my advice.”

Romtum Commune Chief Prak Sokhun said rescue efforts are underway. Local police and others are trying to dig out the landslide that they believe is cutting off the exit to the shaft.

A district police officer who asked not to be named said there have been similar incidents of smaller scale at the mine in the past, some of them fatal, but Monday’s collapse has trapped more people that other similar incidents.