Search groups suspended their hunt for 34 workers trapped inside a gold and copper mine in northern Chile after a new collapse put the searchers lives in danger, authorities said on Sunday.

Three teams had entered the mine through a ventilation shaft, but had to withdraw when rock collapsed in the duct.

Mining Secretary Laurence Goldborne said the shaft was “no longer an option” for the attempted rescue of the 34 miners who were trapped 300 meters underground when a tunnel caved in on Thursday.

The setback meant the chances of finding the trapped miners alive “are lower than they were yesterday,” Goldborne said. “I have great pain,” he added.

Goldborne had said earlier yesterday that he didn’t know how long the miners could survive. No one had been able to communicate with the trapped men since the cave-in.

Goldborne returned from Ecuador to direct the rescue, while President Sebastian Pinera left the inauguration of Colombia’s new president, saying he needed to be with the miners’ families.

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