A fire accident at a gold mine in the Arequipa region of southern Peru, operated by local mining company Minera Yanaquihua, reportedly killed at least 27 miners.

The miners were working about 100m below the surface when a short circuit sparked a fire that quickly surrounded one of the tunnels.

According to the local news agency rpp.pe, the timber tunnel supports at the La Esperanza gold mine, many of which were soaked in oil, have fuelled the fire.

Police, together with brigade members, have placed wooden blocks to prevent the mine from collapsing, to enter the area where the fire occurred.

The National Police has removed the bodies of the 27 people who died in the mine fire, said the publication.

Yanaquihua mining company, in a statement, said that 175 workers had been safely evacuated after the accident, which is anticipated to have taken place late Friday (5 May) or early Saturday (6 May).

According to the regional government, the emergency response was delayed, as the nearest police station was located 90 minutes away from the site, and a few hours from the nearest city.

The relatives of the missing miners arrived at the mine yesterday morning but were denied access to the site, reported Peruvian newspaper La República.

According to Al-Jazeera, Minera Yanaquihua legally operating the enterprise, but there are many illegal mines in the region. It has been operating mines in Peru for 23 years.