CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday that they would investigate claims that Brazilian gold miners massacred a village of Yanomami Indians deep in the Amazon jungle.
It was not clear how many people may have died in the massacre. An account presented to prosecutors Monday said most of the approximately 80 people living in a remote village called Irotatheri were killed.
The massacre occurred in early July, according to the account, which was submitted by a Yanomami organization to prosecutors in Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas State, in southern Venezuela.
The document said the only survivors of Irotatheri appeared to be three people who had been away from the village hunting when the miners arrived. The village is located along the upper reaches of the Ocamo River.
The account said the miners arrived in a helicopter and attacked the villagers with guns and possibly with explosives. The three people who had been off hunting heard the helicopter and sounds of gunfire, it said.
The document said members of another village arrived later to find the village burned, and the charred remains of the villagers.
The national prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that it had appointed a commission to investigate the allegations. It said the village was a long helicopter ride or a 15-day walk from Puerto Ayacucho.
The charges evoked memories of a 1993 episode in an Amazonas village called Haximu in which 16 Yanomami were killed by Brazilian miners. An early account of those killings put the death toll at 73, suggesting that caution was indicated in judging the death toll in the newly reported massacre.
The Yanomami are one of the largest isolated indigenous groups in the Amazon. Many of them maintain traditional ways deep in the jungle.
Illegal gold mining is a longstanding problem in the Amazon, although it has increased in recent years with the soaring price of gold. Many Brazilian miners enter Venezuela, clashing with indigenous groups.
“The entrance of illegal miners is well documented, and they are not taking sufficient measures to prevent it,’’ said Aime Tillet, a member of an indigenous advocacy group, Wataniba.