(Lima) At least 27 workers died in a fire in a gold mine in the region of Arequipa (south) in Peru, authorities announced on Sunday, specifying in the evening that 12 bodies had been recovered by rescue teams.

“We managed to enter the mine for body recovery operations” and “12 corpses were recovered,” police said in a statement.

A short circuit is believed to be the cause of the fire that occurred in a gallery of the La Esperanza mine, located in the province of Condesuyos, in a remote area of ​​the Arequipa region, said representatives of the police and the Parquet present on the premises.

“The information we have indicates 27 deaths inside the mine,” prosecutor Giovanni Matos told N.

The fire, which appears to have been followed by an explosion, reportedly occurred at a depth of 100 meters on Saturday, but police were unable to confirm the death toll until Sunday.

Members of the families of the victims presented themselves at the police station nearest to the site in an attempt to obtain information on the operations in progress.

The government of President Dina Boluarte expressed its condolences in a tweet.

“The Ministries of Interior and Defense have been working since the beginning of this tragedy to rescue and transfer the bodies,” the presidency wrote.

For his part, the mayor of Yanaquihua, James Casquino, told the national news agency Andina that most of the workers had died of asphyxiation and burns.

According to him, the short circuit was caused by the collapse of some rocks.

Minera Yanaquihua, which operates in this mine, is a medium-sized gold production company founded in 2000 in the district of Yanaquihua, in the region of Arequipa.

The mining sector is a major pillar of the country’s economy, accounting for 8.3% of GDP. The world’s second largest producer of copper, silver and zinc, Peru is the leading producer of gold, zinc, lead, tin and molybdenum in Latin America, according to official statistics.