MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua's government said Tuesday it has called off a search for at least four missing miners because cave-ins made the effort too dangerous to continue, and hopes have faded that anyone could be found alive after five days.
Nicaragua's first lady and government spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, said continuing the effort would put more lives at risk.
Murillo told the Chanel 4 television station early that "experts had to admit that any rescue was impossible because of the danger."
At least 26 miners were trapped by a collapse Thursday at the El Comal gold and silver mine near Bonanza, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) northeast of Managua. Twenty-two were rescued alive.
Between four and eight men were believed still missing. The exact number was unclear because the miners were freelancers, not formal employees.
The mine is operated under a concession held by Hemco, which is owned by Colombia-based Minero SA. But the trapped miners themselves are freelancers allowed to work in the area if they sell any gold they find to the firm.
Rescuers said there were constant cave-ins inside the water-soaked mine.
Jorge Hernandez had been waiting outside the mine in hopes that his missing brother would be found. "My brother was left buried," said Hernandez. "I don't know what I'm going to tell his daughters. They depended on him. "