Seven die in makeshift goldmine collapse in DR Congo

A picture of a miner about 580 meters underground, Manu Brabo/Getty Images

Seven miners have died and five are missing after a makeshift goldmine collapsed in eastern DR Congo’s South Kivu province after heavy rain, local sources said on Wednesday.

The accident occurred Monday near Shabunda, said Cyrille Lualuba Bendera, who represents local NGOs.

He said the torrential rains sparked the collapse, “taking the artisanal diggers by surprise while they were hard at work in a shaft at least six metres (20 feet) deep.”

Of 13 people who were in the shaft, only one was found alive, but was “seriously injured” and taken to hospital, he said.

The seven dead miners were buried Monday at the site, while a search for the five missing was under way, he added.

South Kivu authorities said they were aware of the accident but declined to comment.

Artisanal miners in the vast central African country often work in difficult conditions, ignoring safety norms.

They sell gold or copper to brokers who sell the metals on to large foreign businesses.

Accidents are common and often quite deadly, but go largely unreported because of the remote areas where the activity takes place.

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