Around 50 Feared Dead In DR Congo Mine Flooding

Hundreds of people gather in Kamituga, South Kivu, on September 12, 2020, 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. STRINGER / AFP


About 50 people are feared dead after an artisanal gold mine flooded in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rain, a provincial governor said Saturday.

The accident in the makeshift mine occurred on Friday in the town of Kamituga, in South Kivu province, about 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the regional capital Bukavu.

DR Congo’s mineral-rich but volatile east faces regular attacks from a plethora of militias and rebel groups which operate freely in the region.

South Kivu governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi deplored “the tragic deaths of 50 people, most of them young”.

However, Kamituga mayor Alexandre Bundya said “we are not yet sure of the exact number” of victims.

No bodies had been recovered so far, he said, adding that “19 families have come to look for their relatives”.


DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said he was “deeply saddened” and asked the government to “take strong measures so that such tragedies are not repeated.”

A local resident at the scene, Jean Nondo Mukambilwa, told AFP that only one body had been found so far.

Torrential rain had flooded a river close to the mine, and dismissed an earlier report that the mine had caved in, he said.

“It was not a collapse. It was because of the rains that the accident happened,” he explained.

“Water went into the three tunnels. When people tried to get out, there was no way as the water was flowing strongly, with high pressure.”

Hundreds of people gathered at the entrance to one of the tunnels, a video sent to AFP by the witness showed.

Men using shovels were trying to clear the entrance to the narrow passageway, as Red Cross workers stood waiting.

The mayor decreed two days of mourning and called on locals to help extract the bodies from the ground.

“Investigations must be carried out to find out the causes of this disaster,” said a representative of civil society, Nicolas Kyalangalilwa.

“The authorities must take responsibility instead of taxing” these miners.

Accidents in DR Congo’s makeshift mines are common and often deadly.

– Illegal mining rampant –

In June 2019, at least 39 men died when a copper mine in Kolwezi, in the southeastern Katanga region, partially collapsed.

Because many such mines are in remote areas however, the accidents are under-reported. DR Congo has huge reserves of gold, cobalt, copper and coltan.

It is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, crucial for making the batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles.

The illegal miners sell what they find to local traders, who sell it on to large foreign companies and are usually paid a pittance.

Mining hardly benefits DR Congo’s more than 80 million people. The World Bank said in 2018 that 72 percent of the population lived on less than 1.9 dollars a day.

Most Congolese earn their living in informal economic sectors such as makeshift mining.

According to a report by London-based specialist firm Darton, up to 16 percent of the cobalt extracted in the mineral-rich Katanga province came from illegal miners.

Mali Road Mine Kills Eight Bus Passengers


Eight bus passengers were killed Tuesday by a road mine in central Mali, police and the bus company said, in an attack bearing the hallmark of jihadists who plague the region.

The vehicle, which was en route from the central town of Douentza to the northern town of Gao, “struck a mine, (and) eight passengers were killed,” Oumar Ould Mamoud of the Sonef bus company told AFP.

Police confirmed his account and said the blast occurred 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Douentza, also leaving 13 people injured.

Another police official said “terrorists” had set down the mine.

A Malian military unit by coincidence had been travelling on the same road and was able to provide assistance to the passengers, the source said, and Sonef said it had sent a second bus to pick up them up.

The number of people in the vehicle at the time of the blast was not immediately known.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists in 2012 before the rebels were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

But much of the region remains chronically unstable and since 2015 violence has spread to the centre of the country, an ethnic mosaic.

Jihadists have carried out dozens of hit-and-run raids and mine attacks, striking troops as well as civilians.

In January 2018, 24 Malian and Burkinabe citizens, including women and children, lost their lives in a blast in central Mali as they headed to a weekly fair.

The insurgents have also inflamed tensions between rival communities, particularly nomadic Fulani herders and sedentary farmers. Hundreds of lives have been lost in tit-for-tat assaults.


One Survivor, Nine Bodies Pulled Out Of Pakistan Mine

Pakistani relatives carry the coffin of a coal miner from a hospital in Quetta on July 16, 2019, following a coal mine accident. BANARAS KHAN / AFP


Pakistani authorities said Tuesday they had rescued one miner who survived two days trapped in a coal mine after a fire that killed nine other workers in central Pakistan.

An electrical short circuit sparked the blaze on Sunday at the mine east of Quetta, the capital of oil and mineral-rich Balochistan province.

Eleven miners were working around 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) underground at the time. One was quickly saved but poisonous carbon monoxide gas hampered rescue efforts.

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that just one of the remaining ten had been discovered alive.

“We have found nine dead bodies,” Abdullah Shahwani, a top provincial official for the industry, told AFP.

The surviving miner was critically injured, he said.

Provincial government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani confirmed the toll.

The coal mine is run by the state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Most coal mines in the impoverished province are notorious for poor safety standards and facilities, and similar deadly accidents have occurred in the past.


Three Dead, 14 Missing In Ukraine Mine Blast

Ukraine on the Map


Three people have died and 14 are missing following a coal mine blast in a separatist eastern region of Ukraine, news agencies reported Friday.

The gas blast ripped through the mine in Yurievka village in the self-proclaimed republic of Lugansk, which broke away from Kiev in 2014 and is run by Moscow-backed rebels.

“At the moment we understand three dead have been brought to the surface. The fate of 14 others is uncertain,” local government official Yevgeny Katsavalov told the Lugansk news service.

Head of the unrecognised republic Leonid Pasechnik on Twitter called the explosion at the Skhidcarbon mine a “terrible tragedy”.

Emergency services were doing “everything necessary,” he said.

The Lugansk news agency said the mine was closed in 2014 due to the conflict between Kiev’s forces and the Russia-backed separatists but was reopened in 2018.

Most of Ukraine’s coal is produced in its eastern region, where the ongoing fighting has cost some 13,000 lives.

Kiev has tried to boost the operations of other pits under its control in the west of the country.


Up To 100 Still Feared Trapped In Indonesia Mine

This handout picture from Indonesia’s Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, taken and released on February 27, 2019, shows rescuers carrying a survivor from an illegal gold mine collapse in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi. 


Indonesian authorities warned Monday that up to 100 people could still be trapped and feared dead inside a collapsed illegal gold mine despite a painstaking rescue effort that has so far plucked 19 people alive from the rubble but also seen nine deaths.

Search teams at the unlicensed mine on Sulawesi island have been hampered by steep terrain, unstable soil and dangerously narrow mining shafts since a landslide caused the accident last Tuesday.

While authorities said the search and rescue effort would continue for another week, they made no mention of continuing efforts to get food and water to any possible survivors.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the number of miners inside the shafts at the time of the accident was still not known as survivors had given varying tallies.

“Some say 30 people, 50, 60 people – even 100 people, because at the time there were many in the main pit (and) … an unknown number in the smaller ones,” he said in a statement.

Because of the precarious conditions, rescue workers initially had to dig by hand to try to reach any survivors, but relatives of those trapped last week gave permission for heavy-duty machinery to be deployed.

Although mechanised diggers cleared debris from the entrance of one hole on Sunday, they found no more survivors.

The accident happened in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi, where five miners were killed in December after a similar illegal gold mine accident.

Mineral-rich Indonesia has scores of unlicensed mines — many with complete disregard for even the most basic safety procedures.

In 2016, 11 miners died after a mudslide engulfed an illegal gold mine in Sumatra’s Jambi province.

In 2015, 12 people died when a mineshaft collapsed on Java island, and 11 miners died on Sumatra island when a mudslide engulfed a mine in Jambi province.

Seven Killed, Dozens Buried In Indonesia Mine Collapse

This handout picture from Indonesia’s Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, taken and released on February 27, 2019 shows rescuers carrying a survivor from an illegal gold mine collapse in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi. One person was killed and dozens more were buried in the collapse of an illegal gold mine in Indonesia, the country’s disaster agency said on February 27.


At least seven people have died and dozens more are still trapped beneath the rubble of an illegal gold mine that collapsed in Indonesia, officials said Thursday, as rescuers frantically searched for survivors.

Some 19 miners had been plucked to safety since Tuesday night’s accident and rescuers are communicating with some still buried, raising hopes for more survivors.

But with the clock ticking, the rescue effort at the remote site on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island was hampered by steep terrain and unstable soil conditions after the collapse triggered a landslide.

A survivor whose leg was amputated at the site Thursday later died of massive blood loss, bringing the death toll to seven.

“His condition was already bad and he had lost a lot of blood,” said local disaster agency official Abdul Muin Paputungan.

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“He died after we managed to evacuate him from the scene.”

Medical personnel removed the man’s limb because it was pinned underneath a large rock, making it impossible to free him without emergency on-site surgery.

“We’re racing against time,” Paputungan said of the search for survivors.

“The rescue is ongoing but it’s risky… We’ve heard at least three people asking for help and we’re trying to pull them out and supply them with water and food so they can survive.”

Army and disaster agency personnel used ropes to navigate the steep, muddy area as survivors were carried away in makeshift stretchers to waiting vehicles.

Some have been treated for cuts and broken bones at a local hospital.

With heavy machinery on standby, rescuers so far have been forced to use spades and even their bare hands to clear away debris, fearing that a wrong move could make the situation worse.

“We’ve had to limit the number of rescuers because there have been more cracks at the location… so we’re afraid if there are too many people it will make things more dangerous,” Paputungan said.

The accident happened when support beams at the unlicensed site collapsed, according to the disaster agency.

More than three dozen people may still be trapped at the mine in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi, where some five miners were killed in December after an illegal gold mine accident.

But it remained unclear how many people were still in the mine.

“The figures are not consistently based on survivors’ accounts,” District head Yasti Soepradjo said earlier.

“We’re still in the dark about the exact number.”

The mineral-rich Southeast Asian nation has scores of unlicensed mining sites and safety regulations are routinely flouted.

Ground conditions at the mine were unstable due to a large number of holes dug by the miners, officials have said.

In 2016, 11 miners died after a mudslide engulfed an illegal gold mine in Sumatra’s Jambi province.

A year earlier, 12 people were killed when a shaft collapsed after they tunnelled into a disused gold mine on Java island.


Eight Rescued From Flooded Zimbabwe Gold Mine

A miner gets ready to descend in a mining pit during a rescue operation at Cricket Mine in Kadoma, Mashonaland West Province on February 15, 2019. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP


Rescuers in Zimbabwe on Saturday pulled eight illegal miners alive from a flooded gold mine where officials believe up to 70 have been trapped for three days, state television said.

“Eight miners have been rescued following the Kadoma mine disaster where suspected scores of miners lost their lives this week,” Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.

The rescued received medical attention on site and “are in a stable condition and have been ferried to the hospital,” it said.

Television footage showed some of the men, in wet and muddied clothes, being carried – without stretchers – to a makeshift clinic.

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One was seen in a clip posted on Twitter telling journalists that the water rose to neck level, forcing them to stand for days until it receded.

On Friday the government said that between 60-70 “artisanal” miners were trapped in two shafts.

It launched an appeal for $200,000 to be used “to pump out water, feeding the bereaved families and the (rescue) teams on the ground, transportation and burial of the victims”, local minister July Moyo said in a statement.

“Given the magnitude of this disaster, we kindly appeal to individuals, development partners and the corporate world for assistance in cash and kind,” he said.

Zimbabwe is the throws of a deep economic crisis, the worst in a decade.


Coal Mineworkers Strike At Gupta-Linked South African Mine

Employees and contractors of the Optimum Coal Mine in Hendrina, owned by the controversial Gupta family, demonstrate with a placard reading ‘Zuma is gone – you follow’ in front of the gates of the mine in Hendrina, South Africa, on February 22, 2018. Workers are on strike because of the Bank of Baroda withdrawing Services in South Africa and reduced the operations to a standstill as they marched to hand over a memorandum to the company’s CEO.


Hundreds of workers at a South African coal mine owned by the Guptas, a family closely associated with ex-president Jacob Zuma, have gone on strike over uncertainty about the company’s future.

Some 2,500 workers downed tools at the mine in eastern Mpumalanga province,  demanding clarity on whether the firm has been sold to a new owner and if their salaries due this week will be paid, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said Thursday.

“Our members say if they don’t get paid their salaries the strike which started yesterday, will continue,” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu told AFP, adding “the workers also want to know if the mine has been sold or not”.

The company’s chief operating officer George van der Merwe addressed the workers on Thursday telling them the firm was experiencing financial problems and offered no guarantees that salaries, due on Friday, would be paid.

“For the salaries of tomorrow, trust me the team is busy having a discussion now with the banks,… but I today cannot commit to you anything that I do not have the 100 percent answer for.”

The Guptas and Zuma’s son Duduzane acquired the mine from Glencore for 2.15 billion rand ($184 million) in 2015. Last year it announced that it was selling the mine to Swiss-based company Charles King SA.

The mine’s holding company Oakbay Investments did not respond to emailed questions.

The government said in an emailed response that it had not received any application from the company “to transfer its mining right”.

The Guptas are a business family from India who formed allegedly improper ties to Zuma. They are accused of receiving hugely favourable government deals.

Police last week issued an arrest warrant for one of the brothers, Ajay Gupta.  The second brother Atul, also reportedly out of the country, on Monday fought back against a corruption probe by contesting an assets freeze.