At least 50 people are believed to have been killed in the collapse and flooding of a makeshift gold mine on Friday afternoon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The accident occurred near the town of Kamituga in South Kivu province, which is in the east of the country.
Torrential rain in the area is being blamed to the mine's collapse, with the local mayor, Alexandre Bundya, saying it was due to "soil subsidence" resulting from the wet weather. There have been other reports that the victims may have drowned when floodwaters entered the tunnels.
🇨🇩 😭 La ville de Kamituga dans un grand deuil; Au moins 60 morts dans un puits artisanal d'or au D3 Mobale en territoire de Mwenga au Sud-Kivu.— Dieudonné Bazika (@BazikaDieudonne) September 11, 2020
😭 Perte énorme ds des familles. @Presidence_RDC @TheoKASI @PrimatureRDC @mines_des @CTCPM_MINES_RDC @AKamituga @MaishaRdc @GouvSudkivu pic.twitter.com/uoO9XstBEM
Local residents assist with recovery operations
The mayor also said the precise number of victims remains unknown and has urged local residents to assist with recovering the bodies of the victims. A two-day period of mourning has been declared in Kamituga.
Some social media reports are saying that one person has been found alive, but this is unconfirmed.
While the DRC does have professional and regulated mining operations typically run by multinational mining houses, there also many unregulated mines and accidents are common.
Many deaths in 2019 accident at informal mine
In June 2019, for example, 43 unregulated miners died in a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine.
The mining site near Kamituga where the accident occurred is known as Detroit mine. There is also a Canadian mining house that operates at Kamituga, Banro Corporation, but it has confirmed that the incident did not happen on the concession owned by the mine.
According to a local NGO called Initiative of Support and Social Supervision of Women, there were several miners in the shaft at the time of the accident, but no one could get out.