A fire in a small gold mine in southern Peru has left 27 people dead, authorities said on Sunday, in the country’s single deadliest mining accident in more than two decades.
In a statement, the local government said a short-circuit sparked the fire in the early morning hours of Saturday in the southern region of Arequipa. Images on local media and on social media showed dark plumes of smoke pouring out of the site.
The mine is operated by Yanaquihua, a small-scale firm. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It’s been confirmed by the Yanaquihua police station, there are 27 dead,” local prosecutor Giovanni Matos told local television on Sunday.
Peru is the world’s top gold producer and second-largest copper producer. According to data from Peru’s ministry of energy and mines, the incident is the single deadliest mining accident since 2000.
In 2022, 38 people were killed in mining accidents around the country, highlighting safety concerns in Latin American mining. Peru had its deadliest year in 2002 when 73 people died in different mining accidents.