Border guards have rescued 11 people who were being forced to work at a gold mine in central Vietnam, local authorities said on Monday. Le Van Phuong, chief border guard of Quang Tri Province, said his unit had found the workers at an illegal gold mine in Phuoc Son Town, Quang Nam Province, more than four hours to the south. The 11 captives, aged 18 to 24, have all been returned home to Quang Tri. Their families said they had been coerced into working at the mine with the promise of an “easy” job that paid VND5 million ($223) a month. However, they were beaten, forced to work under harsh conditions and held captive by their employers. In order to evade detection by local authorities, their captors forced the workers to work from 1-5 a.m., and to hide in deep tunnels. Five workers attempted to escape, but were unable to contact their families. “One of them managed to call his family while he was in the toilet,” said Phuong. Then the situation was reported to local authorities. An investigation is ongoing, and a search and rescue operation has been launched to see if there are any other workers at the gold mine. Many people have lost their lives at illegal gold mines over the past two decades, but authorities have been unable to put an end to the business.