A makeshift gold mine collapsed in southwest Colombia on Saturday, killing 21 people and injuring another 18, authorities said.

Efforts were under way to find about 10 miners missing and presumed trapped underground in the mine, located near the town of Suarez, 220 miles southeast of the capital, Bogota.

"There are still a lot of people to rescue, and we don't know what conditions they're in," a policeman who identified himself as patrolman Delgado said by telephone from the mine. "Initially they said there were around 50 people trapped."

Officials had recovered 21 bodies and rescued 18 people who were hurt in the morning collapse, said Delgado, who declined to give his name because he was not an official police spokesman.

"Initially they said there were around 50 people trapped," he said.

Local residents began excavating in the mine after it was reported that gold had been found deep underground.

Many such informal mines operate in Colombia, often with minimal safety precautions. Accidents are common.