Rescuers smelling gas abandoned efforts Friday to enter a collapsed gold mine in the southern Philippines, where an explosion killed at least 18 miners and left perhaps dozens missing. At least 10 miners have been rescued following the blast late Wednesday inside a mine operated by JB Management and Mining Corp. in the mountain village of Mount Diwata in Compostela Valley province, the Office of Civil Defense said.
There were conflicting reports about the number of people inside the mine, which some officials put at about 50.
Village chief Franco Tito said "rancid smell," probably caused by fumes inside the tunnel, prevented rescue workers from entering. They decided to wait for two days before trying again, he said.
"Rescuers refused to enter. They just withdrew," he said. "They went around to another tunnel and tried to enter from there, but the condition is the same."
Tito said earlier one survivor told him that a cache of dynamite ignited inside the tunnel, but the civil defense office dismissed that account and said a compressor supplying air to the mine had apparently exploded, the AP says.
He said 18 bodies were removed from the compound, although police immediately identified only five dead.
Accidents are common in the mining areas on Mount Diwata, which is believed to sit atop a rich gold deposit, about 930 kilometers (580 miles) southeast of Manila.