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Rescuers pause search for trapped Honduran miners


Rescue personnel stand at their base camp near the area where eight miners remain trapped at a gold mine affected by a landslide in San Juan Arriba, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa July 5, 2014. Photo - Reuters

Rescuers on Saturday paused the search for eight miners trapped in a collapsed gold mine in southern Honduras, as hopes of finding the men alive faded.

"We suspended the search but will continue on Sunday, exploring through another tunnel," said geologist Anibal Godoy, who is heading the rescue operation.

"Let's see if it's possible at least to retrieve the bodies," Godoy told AFP.

Eleven miners were trapped Wednesday in a cave-in at the unlicensed San Juan mine in the department of Choluteca, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Tegucigalpa. The workers were caught at a depth of 80 meters (260 feet).

Rescuers on Friday freed three of the miners, who emerged dehydrated and exhausted.

The men escaped through a narrow gap between rocks with the help of rescuers, cheered on by relatives gathered around the tunnel.

Godoy however said that it was "impossible to continue digging" in that tunnel because the risk of a collapse "is too high."

Rescuers on Sunday will try to reach the miners through another tunnel, but only if it is stable enough, he said.

Chile said that it would send three experts with experience in rescuing the 33 men trapped deep inside an Atacama desert mine for 69 days in 2010.

But Godoy said that it was too late. "There is little hope for the others," he said.

Rescuers "can come from China, from wherever - the operation is very complicated," he said.

Another rescue coordinator, Hugo Rodriguez, told local media that even though there is a stench in the tunnel, "the last thing that we can say is that these people are dead."

The mountainous area is home to about 80 deep tunnel mines, where some 4,000 people from neighboring communities work.

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