Kenya: Five people have died after the walls of a gold mine collapsed on them in Bushiagala in Ikolomani Sub-county, Kakamega, local reports indicated.
Eight miners are nursing injuries at the Kakamega Country Referral Hospital after they were pulled from the rubble.
â€śThey suffered various degree of soft tissue injuries and some were critically injured,” said a firefighter at the scene.
The artisanal mine caved in at around 7pm on Thursday due to the heavy rains that have been pounding the area for the past three weeks.
Eyewitnesses say that rainwater went into the mining tunnel causing havoc.
At least 27 people were working at the gold mine when it collapsed.
The local chief Zacchaeus Shitandasi, said that majority of the people who were trapped in the mines are youth.
â€śThey are majorly from this area and have been working at the site as casual labourers,” he said.
By 9pm, the villagers were still digging through the rubble, trying to rescue the miners.
The rescue efforts were no mean feat as the villagers faced the challenge of refuelling their generators to pump out water from the mines.
â€śWe are not sure whether all of the 27 miners in the shaft have been rescued. We (miners) just saved the ones we could lay our hands on. It is regrettable that the county has no structures to respond to such an emergency,â€ť said Michael Magambo.
In March last year, Kakamega deputy governor Philip Kutima had ordered all gold mines in the county shut for being a weak link for the spread of the coronavirus.
It is not clear how the ban was lifted.
According to research done by the Alliance for Responsible Mining in Kenya, artisanal and small-scale mining continues to remain a significant source of employment for Kenyans.
â€śAbout 146,000 people were working in small-scale mining by 2012 in Kenya as Large-scale mining (LSM) companies employ about 9,000 workers,â€ť said the report published in 2018.
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