4 Miners killed in Nicaragua mine collapse

Four artisanal miners were killed and another survived the collapse of a clandestine gold mine in the western Nicaraguan municipality of Villanueva, the town’s Mayor Juan Gomez confirmed Tuesday.

The accident occurred Monday night in the Rincon de los Garcia mine, located some 183 kilometers (114 miles) northwest of Managua, Gomez told Efe.

The miners who died were identified as Victor Andrade, 20, Luis Felipe Gomez, 42, Freddy Escorcia, 36, and Einer Lopez, 24.

Local authorities suspect that the collapse was the result of a broken support beam inside a tunnel.

The only survivor, William Martinez, whose age was not stated, was hospitalized in critical condition after escaping from being buried alive, authorities said.

Martinez was initially buried in an additional cave-in while operating a backhoe in an attempt to rescue the other miners, Fire Department chief Javier Amaya said.

This was a clandestine mine, but artisanal miners continued to work it.

A similar disaster occurred last Aug. 28 in northeastern Nicaragua, where 29 small-scale miners were trapped in a mine collapse, of whom two found their own way out, 20 were rescued and seven remain missing.

In that same area of northeast Nicaragua, another artisanal miner died of asphyxiation last Sept. 20 as he was operating a pump inside a tunnel.



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Mark Nowak is the author of Shut Up Shut Down (Coffee House Press, 2004), a New York Times  “Editor’s Choice,” and Coal Mountain Elementary (Coffee House Press, 2009), which Howard Zinn called “a stunning educational tool.” He is a 2010 Guggenheim fellow, a recipient of the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism from Split This Rock (2015) and a Lannan Literary Fellow (2015). A native of Buffalo, Nowak currently directs the Worker Writers School, currently in collaboration with PEN America and the Worker Justice Center of New York.

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