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At least 60 miners trapped

world Updated: Nov 27, 2007 16:09 IST

At least 60 miners are trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a gold mine in southern Ecuador, officials said.

Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea said an undetermined number of miners were injured in the blast and authorities were preparing to begin rescue efforts at the mine, located in the village of Ponce Enriquez, 370 kilometres southwest of Quito.

"It was an explosion in the mine we still don't know the cause and the injured are being taken to Machala," a nearby town, Larrea told Channel 1 television.

The minister promised an immediate response and said that authorities expect to help the roughly 60 people buried in the
mine in "the coming hours."

Larrea said the mine was run by a local cooperative with "limited safety.