Seven people were killed while another was hospitalized after allegedly suffocating inside a mining tunnel in Surigao City early Thursday, police said.

Superintendent Martin Gamba, Caraga regional police spokesman, identified the fatalities as Jomar Estrella, 26; Delvin Antipas, 21; Dexter Antipas, 18; Arnel Palasan, 22; Julius Mayola, 26; Basty Avila, 23; and Paustino Pacquiao, 22.

Berdan Avila, 19, is still being treated at the Caraga Regional Hospital, Gamba said.

The incident occurred around 9 a.m. in one of the tunnels in Sitio File, Brgy. Mabini.

The eight purposely entered the tunnel owned and financed by a certain Jonalyn Martinez to transfer a hose to the other tunnel but were not able to come out, Gamba said.

“Their companions outside the tunnel tried to rescue the eight by dropping a rope, but only Berdan Avila was able to come out alive. Accordingly, the victims experienced difficulty in breathing while inside,” he said.

The other seven were immediately brought to the hospital after rescuers managed to pull them out, but all were declared dead on arrival by doctors, according to Gamba. (John Roson)

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