Conakry: At least 12 illegal miners, mainly women, were killed in a landslide in a disused goldmine in northeastern Guinea, witnesses and a local official said today.
Moussa Magassouba told AFP he had come out of the shaft, in the Siguiri gold region, to smoke a cigarette when he heard “a loud noise that sounded like a thunderous roar before the hole closed in on our friends who were trapped inside”.
Namissata Foinke, the wife of one of the victims, told AFP that the accident occurred when the miners were about to leave the site.
Her husband was among 12 people killed, she said.
Aliou Guisse, a local official, put the death toll at 13 and said the victims were mostly women.
Several wounded miners were ferried to hospitals and clinics near the mine in Boure Nafadji, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the regional capital, also called Siguiri.
Thousands of subsistence miners dig for gold in hazardous conditions in the region’s small shafts, close to Guinea’s border with Mali.
“We and the police have always chased the illegals but each time they return to the site,” Guisse said.
Boure Nafadji resident Oulare Mamadi, who saw the drama unfold, said the victims were people from nearby villages taking advantage of the fact that mine had been abandoned by locals who deemed it unsafe.
Guinea sits atop huge deposits of gold, bauxite and diamond but the majority of its people live in poverty and unregulated mining by individuals is commonplace.