An early morning downpour on Wednesday and a shortage of oxygen tanks have slowed efforts to rescue 14 people trapped in an abandoned gold mine in the Philippines's northern mountain region, officials said.
Local government and police officials were losing hope of finding any survivors from a group of small-scale miners trapped since Monday after a portion of the mine collapsed due to rains brought by Typhoon Hagupit.
"We're doing our best to get to the trapped miners," said Mario Godio, mayor of a gold mining town in Benguet province in the northern Philippines.
"The water level inside is still high and it started raining again this morning. Once the weather permits, we'll try to enter and get to these people. I was told it would take 2-3 hours just to get to the area where we believe the miners are."
Godio said rescue workers were also running out of oxygen tanks to get deeper into the mine. It was not immediately known if the trapped victims were using oxygen tanks.
There has been no communication with the missing miners, but people in the community know they had been regularly going into the mine.
Early this month, 20 people were killed and about two dozen were injured when monsoon rains loosened soil and buried a mining village in the southern Philippines, forcing officials to close down two villages.
Landslides and flash floods are common across the Philippine archipelago during the monsoon months between May and October, particularly near mining areas, as well as low-lying and coastal areas.
In February 2006, more than 1,000 people died when days of monsoon rain triggered a massive landslide on a deforested mountain on the central island of Leyte, burying an entire village, including a school where many people had sought refuge.
The country's worst disaster also happened on the same island in November 1991 when 5,000 people were swept to the sea by flash floods brought by monsoon rains.