A collapse on Wednesday in an illegal mine in northern Ecuador left at least three dead and two missing. The incident took place in the coastal province of Esmeraldas, on the border with Colombia.
The National Risk Management Service (SNGR), which announced the incident in a press release, did not specify what type of mine it was. President Lenin Moreno deplored the accident and denounced illegal mining in his country. “I have asked emergency organizations to take all necessary actions to save people’s lives,” he said on Twitter.
Landslide in Ecuador Kills Three at Illegal Mine https://t.co/axnlWoyHqJ pic.twitter.com/x743nTOD8M
— Jorge Dominguez (@Jor_I_Dominguez) November 19, 2020
A recurring problem in the country
According to the SNGR, the collapse of some 40 cubic meters of earth was caused by illegal excavations. In 2013, a similar accident in a mine in the Andean province of Azua (south) left 11 dead and 18 injured. In 2003, a landslide in the mining region of Nambija submerged a village, killing 300 people.
Illegal mining is a serious problem in Ecuador. The country is home to five major mining projects with reserves of 11.1 million ounces of gold, 51.6 million ounces of silver and 9.8 million tonnes of copper. Despite protests from indigenous populations and environmentalists, Ecuador launched industrial-scale mineral exploitation in 2019 for the purpose of economic growth.