PARIS (Reuters) – Three French soldiers died from toxic fumes during an operation targeting illegal gold miners in French Guyana, the defence ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry said the soldiers were preparing to place explosive charges to destroy the underground facilities used by the miners when eight of them became intoxicated by toxic fumes at the bottom of a gallery.
Five other soldiers were airlifted and one is still in serious condition, the ministry said.
The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon at an illegal site in the region of Maripasoula, in southern Guyana, close to the border with Suriname and Brazil, Guyana newspapers said.
France has deployed hundreds of soldiers to the region to combat illegal mining.
(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Bate Felix; editing by John Irish)