More than 60 armed miners were arrested in an illegal gold mine in northeastern Liberia, where around 40 people are still trapped in a collapsed pit, the BBC said.
They "resisted" a team sent to restore order on the ground, said Archievego Doe of the Civil Protection Agency.
Another official described the situation as "lawless" The walls of the pit collapsed on February 10th.
The Liberian authorities deployed a team of officers from the army, police, immigration and drug-busting authorities to the Nimba County gold field, an important center of illegal mining.
The immigration authorities were involved in the operation The illegal miners are foreigners, Mr. Doe said.
It is believed that thousands of people work in the mine near the city of Tapeta.
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Aubrey Wehye, the Superintendent of the Tapeta region, said the situation was "lawless", adding that some of the illegal miners owned "from Guinea-derived guns they were firing all night ".
The illegal miners fear that the government wants to end their operations, says Jonathan Paye-Layleh of the BBC, which is located in the capital Monrovia.
Poverty and a weak economy mean that there is no shortage of Liberians willing to do it. Our reporter calls himself dead in illegal gold mines.
Miners seek the dead and survivors with their bare hands. Authorities are now planning to use an earthmoving machine to widen the path to the pit so that an excavator can reach the site, Mr Doe told the BBC.
He said the death toll would probably rise.