A fire in a gold mine in southern Peru has left 27 people dead, authorities said on Sunday, in the country’s worst mining disaster in more than two decades, according to a Reuters report.
In a statement, the local government said a short-circuit sparked the fire in the early morning hours of Saturday in the southern region of Arequipa. Images on local media and on social media showed dark plumes of smoke pouring out of the site.
The electric spark is reported to have ignited the wooden supports inside the mine in the town of Yanaquihua.
“It’s been confirmed by the Yanaquihua police station, there are 27 dead,” local prosecutor Giovanni Matos told local television on Sunday.
The victims were 100 meters below ground, local media said.
Rescue teams were trying to secure the mine before removing the bodies of the victims.
There have been no reports of survivors, nor confirmation about how many people were in the mine at the time of the fire.
Yanaquihua mayor James Casquino told the Andina news agency that most of the miners would have died of asphyxiation and burns
Peru is the world’s top gold producer and second-largest producer of copper.