After a frantic day-and-night search lasting more than a month, rescue teams have found the bodies of four of the eight miners trapped underground in Burkina Faso.
They were working at the Perkoa zinc mine when flood water trapped them at a depth of more than 520m.
The government has expressed its condolences to the victims’ families and local communities.
A search operation is continuing to find the four other miners.
It is not yet clear if the bodies have been identified.
Six of those trapped were from Burkina Faso, while one was Tanzanian and one Zambian.
Last week hopes that the miners could be found alive were diminished after none of them were found in a rescue chamber located about 570m below ground. The chamber is a place of safety, stocked the oxygen, water and snacks.
There is a second rescue chamber towards the bottom of the mine, which is more than 700m deep.
The families of the missing workers have been gathering near the site and formed a support group where they would pray and hope for their loved ones to be found alive.
Last week there were scenes of heartbreak and tears when authorities announced the workers were not in the first survival room.
Some of the relatives continued to hope the miners would still be found alive: “We will stay here until our husbands get out of the hole,” Edith Moné, a wife of one of the missing men, told the BBC.
The Canadian company which owns the mine, Trevali Mining Corporation, said it was “saddened” by the news and that it remained in regular contact with the family members of the deceased and the missing.
The government has launched an investigation into the incident and Trevali “continues to work alongside” authorities, according to a press release from the company.