Rescue workers have freed 20 freelance miners who were trapped in a gold mine for nearly two days after a landslide at an unlicensed mine in northern Nicaragua, a government spokesperson has said.

Rosario Murillo told local radio on Friday that rescue efforts would continue into the night as several workers were still missing.

The spokeswoman had said on Thursday that about 29 miners were trapped. Two of them had managed to dig their way out after the collapse in the remote village of El Comal, according to the local disaster prevention committee.

The whereabouts of the remaining miners was not immediately clear.

Authorities had said earlier they were trying to confirm whether any miners had died, noting that the incident happened in a hard-to-reach area with poor communication.

A local television station showed what appeared to be the body of a dead miner being recovered.

Landslides

Julio Quintero, head of Nicaraguan miner Hemco, a unit of Colombia's Mineros, said the mine in the Bonanza project about 420km northeast of Managua, was closed about four years ago after being deemed unsafe.

Nonetheless, freelance miners continued to work there against the company's orders, and Quintero said Hemco had continued to buy minerals from them until last week, when it decided it could not be sure where the product came from.

Such mining is legal in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Latin America, where it is used as a way for more people to profit from the industry.

The mine had been severely affected by seasonal rains in the past, the company added, with another landslide two months ago killing two miners.

The Bonanza project, which began in 1995, produces about 37,300 troy ounces of gold a year, according to Hemco's website.

Source: Agencies