At least 18 miners killed in tunnel blast in southern Philippines

Explosion inside a gold mine in the southern Philippines killed at least 18 miners and dozens of others feared dead, officials said Thursday.

The Office of Civil Defense in Manila said at least 10 miners have been rescued following the blast late Wednesday inside a mine operated by JB Management and Mining Corp. in the mountain village of Mount Diwata in Compostela Valley province.

Village chief Franco Tito said one survivor, who refused to be identified, told him that a cache of dynamite ignited inside the tunnel around 10:20 p.m. (1420 GMT) Wednesday.

Tito said mine officials refused to let local villagers and even police and soldiers go inside the mine compound to help with the rescue. He said they counted 18 bodies of people brought out by vehicles from the compound.

He held out little hope of finding more survivors among about 50 people believed to have been inside the tunnel "because this is an explosion, not a tunnel collapse."

"This is going to be a retrieval, no longer a rescue operation," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Accidents are common in the mining areas on Mount Diwalwal, which is believe to sit atop a rich gold deposit, about 930 kilometers (580 miles) southeast of Manila, reports the AP.


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