Two miners die in tree fall at Marudi Mt (Guyana)

Two miners were killed on Monday and another injured after being hit by a tree, which fell over the pit they were working in at Marudi Mountain, Deep South Rupununi, Region Nine. Dead are Carlos Fernandes, 30, of Karaudar-naua Village, South Rupunu-ni, and Silvio Domingo, 35 of Aishalton Village, also in the South Rupununi. Harves Olivia Alfred, 43, of Aishalton sustained injuries to his head and back and is hospitalized and said to be in a serious condition.

Police said yesterday that at about 11:20 on Monday, four miners were working in a mining pit at Marudi Mountain when a large tree fell over the pit resulting in three of them being hit by its branches. Fernandes and Domingo reportedly died instantly while Alfred was injured. This newspaper was told that Alfred is in a serious state and after arriving at the Lethem Hospital, he was taken across the border to a hospital in Boa Vista, Brazil. He reportedly also sustained fractured ribs and internal injuries.

Miners have recently begun flocking to the Marudi Mountain area to mine gold and there are a number of operations there. An Aishalton resident told this newspaper yesterday that the men had only left to work in the mines about a week ago. They worked at an area called Toucan. It is reportedly a Brazilian-run mine-site. The men were working when the tree fell. A fourth man, said to be a Brazilian national, escaped with a few scratches.

Marudi Mountain is some 30 miles from Aishalton, where the nearest police station is located and after the lawmen were informed, they journeyed to the area.  After conducting their investigations, the bodies of Fernandes and Domingo were taken to the Aishalton Hospital late Monday night. The two were buried in their villages’ yesterday afternoon.

Alfred, meantime, was taken by road to Lethem, about eight hours away from Aishalton. His sister, Una Michael told Stabroek News from Lethem last evening that he had only gone to the mines last week.

Domingo had only recently returned from Brazil. Another Aishalton resident had told Stabroek News that he worked in that country for many years but due to an injury sustained in a vehicular accident, he could not do “hard” work and returned and went to the mines. He resided with his father and siblings while in the community. Fernandes had also only recently returned from Brazil and went to the mines last week.

Alfred is also a farmer and has three children. Residents were shocked at the incident. Alfred is “a very hard worker and family man”, the resident said. No similar incident has been reported as occurring in that area in recent times though this newspaper was told that about ten years ago, two persons died after the pit they were working in, caved-in.

Monday’s accident is the latest of several fatal incidents that occurred at mining operations this year. Among these was the case of 56-year-old French geologists Guy Rigottier-Gois, who died in the Konawaruk backdam on April 3. He may have thought he struck gold when he took the unusual decision to enter an excavated pit during heavy rainfall to take further samples, this newspaper was told at the time. Reports said that he was in the pit doing some testing when the soil around the pit, which was loose, just caved in. He died after being trapped under the debris.

On July 3, 21-year-old miner Phillip France of Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo died shortly after a sandbank in the Mazaruni area collapsed burying him in the pit where he had been working.

On October 12, 59-year-old Leon Clarke of Hopetown Village, West Coast Berbice, a machine operator at a mine in Mahdia died at his worksite.  Police said the man was operating an excavator in a forty feet deep pit when it caved in and covered him. Employees at the site had told the man’s relatives that Clarke was operating the excavator two rocks fell on him. The first, he was able to move away with the excavator but shortly after a second rock fell and pinned him to the machine.

Apart from deaths caused by these methods, a number of drowning and vehicular accidents have cost lives in mining areas.


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