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Dozens feared dead and others trapped following gold mine collapse in Venezuela

By Sahar Akbarzai, Manuel Cobela and Stefano Pozzebon, CNN

(CNN) — Dozens are feared to be dead after an illegal gold mine in the Venezuelan town of La Paragua collapsed, according to the town’s mayor Yorgi Arciniega.

The mayor estimates dozens of people have been killed, and more are still trapped in the collapsed mine. But due to the region’s remoteness, in the southeastern Bolivar state, there are conflicting reports on the scale of the incident, Arciniega told CNN en Espanol in a phone call on Wednesday.

Relief teams and rescue workers have been dispatched to the area where the mine is located, called Bulla Loca, the mayor said.

Egar Colina, a security official in the Bolivar state government, urged caution and said more state officials were trying to reach La Paragua to update the death toll.

Bolivar is a forest-covered region that has long been affected by illegal mining for gold and other minerals. In recent years, informal mining activity, often controlled by criminal groups, has expanded and reached as far as Canaima National Park, a pristine territory on the border between Venezuela and Brazil.

La Paragua is less than 40 miles from the park’s borders.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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