Darfur gold mine collapse rescue called off; 100 workers missing


A general view shows the Ariab company gold mine in the Sudanese desert, 800km northeast of the capital Khartoum, on October 3, 2011.



The rescue effort to save 100 miners believed trapped inside a collapsed gold mine in Sudan's Darfur region has been called off.

The missing men are believed dead.

A group of about nine rescuers was also killed when the earth collapsed around them during the search.

It is unclear how many people have been rescued or bodies have been recovered.

"Today the searching has stopped because it was too dangerous," said a miner at the unlicensed gold mine in the Jebel Amir district.

News of the collapse, more than 200km northwest of El Fasher, reached Khartoum on Thursday despite having occurred several days before.

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Rescue efforts have been hampered by the delicate desert soil, which is prone to collapse.

The contested area has been the site of war between two tribes fighting over land and mining rights in the area.

The violence has seen thousands of local residents displaced and moved to camps.

Illegal gold mines are an increasing source of revenue for the Sudanese government earning $2.5 billion from exports last year.

Sudan may produce around 50 tons of gold this year, making it Africa's third-largest gold producer and within the top 15 producers worldwide.