100 suspected killed as gold mine collapses in Sudan’s Darfur region
About 100 miners are thought to have died inside a collapsed gold mine in Darfur and nine rescuers trying to free them are now trapped, a miner says.
“Nine of the rescue team disappeared when the land collapsed around them yesterday (Thursday),” the miner, who had visited the scene and asked to remain anonymous, said on Friday.
The unlicensed desert gold mine began to collapse in Jebel Amir district, more than 200 kilometres northwest of the North Darfur state capital El Fasher, on Monday.
The stench of death is now seeping out of the baked earth, the miner said.
“Yesterday eight bodies have been found and still they are looking for the others,” he said.
“According to a count by people working in the mine, the number of people inside is more than 100.”
On Thursday the Jebel Amir district chief, Haroun al-Hassan, said “the number of people who died is more than 60”, but it was unclear whether anyone might still be alive.
He said rescuers were using hand tools out of fear that machinery would cause a further collapse.
But the ground fell around some of the rescuers anyway.
“We are still searching for the bodies,” the district chief said, adding it was unclear how many victims there might be. “We are having difficulty to reach them.”
Production from unofficial gold mines has become a key revenue source for the cash-strapped government in Khartoum.
It is also a tempting but dangerous occupation for residents of Sudan’s poverty-stricken western region of Darfur, which has been devastated by a decade of civil war.
A humanitarian source said earlier this year that close to 70,000 people were digging for gold in Jebel Amir.