UPDATE 2-Rescuers close in on 3 trapped Honduran miners, 8 missing
(Adds details on difficulties faced by trapped miners, rains, adds comments , paragraphs 5-8)
By Jorge Cabrera
SAN JUAN ARRIBA, Honduras, July 3 (Reuters) - Rescuers labored with pickaxes and shovels to dig out 11 miners trapped by a landslide at an illegal gold mine in southern Honduras, and are close to reaching three of the workers, officials said on Thursday.
The workers were trapped when the entrance of the mine in San Juan Arriba collapsed on Wednesday. Officials said the mine, 110 km (70 miles) south of the capital Tegucigalpa, had been ordered to close a few months ago because it was unsafe.
Rescue workers said they had made contact with three of the workers and were close to freeing them, though eight are still missing and it was unclear whether they were alive.
"The situation is complex, it is difficult because the tunnels are narrow, they branch off in a number of directions," Moises Alvarado, a senior emergency services official in the region, said in a telephone interview.
Another problem, authorities said, was a growing threat of rains that could result in the search being suspended.
"That area is all limestone, which is sensitive to rain and could cause landslides, threatening the safety of the people involved in the rescue," Oscar Triminio, a spokesman for the fire services, told Reuters.
Gerardo Flores, the Honduras manager of Mayan Gold, a U.S. miner based nearby that was involved in rescue efforts, told local television that without food, water and with little air, the trapped miners could expect to live just three or four days. Continuación...