16 perish in a landslide at gold mine in Congo

Labourers work at an open shaft of the SMB coltan mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 13, 2019. 13, 2019. REUTERS

Sixteen people have died in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following a landslide at a shuttered gold mine, the provincial governor said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Men work at Makala gold mine camp near the town of Mongbwalu in Ituri province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo-REUTERS

“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 by telephone.

“What surprises us is that the activities continued in this mine, which had been closed by the provincial division of mines.”

Reports say that more than 20 people were working on the gold seam at the time of the accident, suggesting more bodies may be found, said Stéphane Kamundala, a local activist.

At least 43 illegal miners died in June in a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine run by Glencore in southern Congo, highlighting the dangers run by informal miners, who burrow dozens of meters below ground with rudimentary tools.

Dozens of people die in Congo every year because of old-fashioned and unregulated mining methods that compromise safety.