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September 24, 2017

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3 trapped workers rescued from collapsed Honduras mine: officials

CHOLUTECA, Honduras--Rescuers on Friday freed three of 11 laborers trapped in a collapsed mine in southern Honduras, two days after the men became trapped.

The rescued men, visibly dehydrated and exhausted, were taken to the hospital, according to authorities, who gave no word as to the fate of the other trapped workers.

The men escaped through a narrow gap between rocks with the help of rescuers, cheered on by relatives gathered around the San Juan mine in the southern department of Choluteca.

One of those rescued, Nehemias Mendez, 25, suffered an unspecified fracture, according to COPECO disaster relief agency chief Moises Alvarado. The others — Brayan Escalante, 18 and Bayron Maradiaga, 19 — were in good condition.

Wednesday's cave-in struck at an illegal mine, at a depth of 80 meters in the southern town of El Corpus.

Mayor Luis Rueda said the three rescued workers were "unable" to provide information about their eight other colleagues and were being hydrated so they could be more comfortable to speak.

"The hope is that they are close and we can see their eyes shine because they are alive," he added.

But a Salvadoran aid worker who helped rescue the miners said the efforts would focus elsewhere because there are "tons of earth and stone that fell" in the spot where the three men were pulled out.

The rescuers, who penetrated about 100 meters into the shaft, managed to make contact by exchanging yells with the trapped miners.

"Hope is the last thing you want to lose. We want to get them out anyway, even if only to take them to a cemetery and bring them flowers," said a tearful Seydi Ramirez, sister of missing worker Wilmer Ramirez, 22.

Earlier this year, one person died and another was injured following a cave-in at the same mine.

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

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