At least 16 people have been killed after an unlicensed gold mine collapsed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported Reuters.
The accident took place at Kampene, some 180km (110 miles) south of Kindu town.
“There was an accident at the Kampene mine, and for the moment we were able to get 16 bodies from the site of the landslide,” Auguy Musafiri, governor of Maniema province, told Reuters. “What surprises us is that the activities continued in this mine, which had been closed by the provincial division of mines.”
According to a local activist named Stephane Kamundala, over 20 people were working on the gold seam at the time of the accident. The deal toll is expected to rise as scores of people are trapped under the rubble and search and rescue work is continuing.
A civil society campaigner, Justin Kyanga Asumani, said the unlicensed mine in Kampene had been operating for about 10 years, a situation that underscored the lack of oversight and the inactivity by state bodies.
Such type of accidents is very common in DR Congo’s informal mining sector which has poor safety standards.
Back in June, at least 43 illegal miners died in a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine run by Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a subsidiary of Swiss company Glencore, in Kolwezi, southeastern DR Congo, highlighting the dangers run by informal miners, who burrow dozens of meters below ground with rudimentary tools.
Notably, rich reserves of cobalt and other minerals like diamonds, copper and gold, make DR Congo one of the richest countries in Africa, but its people are among the poorest.