Workers recover first bodies from collapsed mine in DR Congo

Rescuers work in Kamituga, South Kivu, at the entrance of one of the mines where dozens of Congolese artisanal miners are feared to be killed after heavy rain filled the mine tunnels. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Emergency workers recovered the first bodies of artisanal miners who were killed when a gold mine collapsed near Kamituga town in South Kivu province, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Eyewitness accounts and video footage viewed by AFP confirmed that some bodies had been retrieved during the second day of search and rescue operations.

A hydraulic shovel had been brought on Sunday even as the workers continued trying to get through the debris with shovels and their bare hands.

At least 50 people were feared dead in the incident which happened on Friday, according to figures given by local authorities.

“We have already brought out 10 bodies,” the mayor of Kamituga town, Alexandre Bundya.

According to Bundya, 19 families were searching for missing persons but he was unable to verify exactly how many miners were underground at the time of the collapse.

Landslides and the collapses of mines in the DR Congo are sometimes caused by heavy rains. Mining accidents in the country usually occur in unsupervised artisanal mines in addition to the miners operating under poor safety standards.

However, due to the remote location of many of these mines, the numbers of deaths resulting from any incident in the mineral-rich country tend to be under-reported.

16 people were killed in October 2019 after a landslide hit an abandoned mine, while 43 others were killed in a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine about four months earlier.