Gold mine collapse in Venezuela kills dozen people

(Reuters) - The collapse of an artisanal gold mine in southeastern Venezuela near an Indigenous community killed at least 12 people, the government announced on Sunday.

A landslide on Wednesday buried the Paraiba de San Jose de Wadamapa mine near the town of Icabaru in Venezuela's Bolivar state, close to the country's border with Brazil.

Amid Venezuela's prolonged economic collapse, informal mining operations have flourished in remote, mineral-rich areas of the country, where thousands of miners work to extract lucrative metals, especially gold, in unsafe conditions.

The accident-prone mines are run with little or no oversight from authorities, though the government often processes the gold into bars for its own use.

Venezuela's Indigenous communities have a complex relationship with gold mining, which can provide an economic lifeline but also cause deforestation, mercury contamination and divert streams and rivers.

In November, local non-governmental organization SOS Orinoco reported a previous landslide at the same mine.

Venezuela's risk management and civil protection agency said in a post on X that it was providing food, water and medical provisions to those affected, while also coordinating the transfer of the bodies to Puerto Ordaz, some 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the north.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Editing by David Alire Garcia)