7 missing in ground collapse in northern Laos

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VIENTIANE, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Seven people are missing in northern Laos' Xieng Khuang province after the ground collapsed while they were drilling for gold on Sunday.

The incident occurred in Choi village, Phoukout district in Xieng Khuang province, some 180 km northeast of Lao capital Vientiane, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.

The group of seven, including one woman, had drilled about 10 meters deep when the ground collapsed, an official from the province's Department of Information, Culture and Tourism told the daily.

The accident followed many days of rain so it was probably the soft ground that caused the land to cave in, he said.

Authorities have assigned local residents to help drill down and locate the bodies of the seven missing people, who are believed to be buried, he added.

People should be careful when drilling during the rainy season because the ground may collapse, he cautioned.

Every year, landslides occur in mountainous northern provinces after heavy rain, causing damage to roads, farmland and houses. Landslides are a perennial problem in the rainy season. Enditem

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