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Colombia gold miners feared dead

Rescuers in Colombia worked into the night searching for 15 gold miners missing and feared dead after three vertical shafts flooded on Wednesday.

According to authorities, the mine near Riosucio in northwestern Colombia flooded, possibly due to a power outage or an explosion in the shafts, which were 14 meters (about 50 feet) to 27 meters (90 feet) below the surface.

"It's completely flooded," Leonardo Mejia, the mine's owner, told reporters at the scene.

He added that some of the miners who were working underground had managed to escape when they realized something had gone wrong, but he feared the 15 missing were all dead.

President Juan Manuel Santos called on rescuers to "spare no effort" in the search.

Authorities said it would take at least three days to clear the mine.

Mining accidents are common in Colombia but usually take place in wildcat mines controlled by criminal gangs and leftist rebels.

The head of National Mining Agency, Natalia Gutierrez, said that the mine was in the process of being legalized.

Last year 120 people died in mining accidents, the highest number since 2011.

av/msh (AFP, AP)

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