Paraguay watches odd urban gold rush

A team of 20 men say they have been digging for past 5 days

They appeared out of nowhere, making a mess, operating without a permit and disrupting the football season by luring gawkers. But who can resist 10 tons of buried gold?

That's what a team of 20 men say they have been digging for since Friday in the middle of a suburb of Paraguay's capital.

Alberto Diaz, the leader of the bunch, equipped with heavy equipment and watched over by police, says he has historical references suggesting the alleged gold trove belonged to one Francisco Solano Lopez - a military hero who died in a 19th century war that pitted Paraguay against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.



But the digging has started causing landslides and water is gushing at the dig site, 15 meters (50 feet) at its deepest.

"We are close. We have already hit something. The accumulation of water is preventing us from recovering the gold," Diaz told AFP Monday at the alleged treasure spot in Capiata, 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Asuncion.

"Today could be the day. We are very excited," Diaz said.



A crowd of some 300 are watching the digging. On Sunday, people ignored a match in the local football league that was being played just nearby, succumbing instead to gold fever and observation of the landslides.

The government's environmental protection agency said Monday the team is digging without a permit.

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