More than 60 miners have been killed this week in Sudan's Darfur region when the gold mine they were working in collapsed, officials said.

A member of parliament from the area said the mine collapsed on Monday, and word had only reached Khartoum on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Ahmed Amr said fighting had broken out in January between two tribes over access to the mine in the Jebel Amir area of North Darfur, and authorities had closed it after several people were killed in the violence. It had since reopened.

A witness told the Reuters news agency by phone that rescue efforts had failed.

Half a million artisan miners have joined a gold rush across Sudan, according to the government, which estimates it made $2.5bn from gold exports last year.

Law and order has collapsed in most parts of Darfur, an arid region in Sudan's west, since mainly non-Arab rebels took up arms in 2003 against the government.

Despite the presence of the world's largest peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, fighting between Sudan's army and rebels has continued since then, alongside banditry and tribal clashes.

Source: Agencies