Five dead as gold mine collapses in Ikolomani
Five people died after the walls of a gold mine collapsed on them in Bushiagala in Ikolomani sub-county, Kakamega.
Eight miners are treating wounds at the Kakamega Country Referral Hospital after being removed from the rubble.
“They suffered varying degrees of soft tissue injuries and some were seriously injured,” a firefighter said at the scene.
The artisanal mine collapsed around 7 p.m. Thursday due to heavy rains that have hit the region for three weeks.
Eyewitnesses say rainwater entered the mining tunnel, causing havoc.
At least 27 people were working at the gold mine when it collapsed.
Local chief Zacchaeus Shitandasi said the majority of people who have been trapped in the mines are young people.
“Most of them are from this region and work at the site as casual laborers,” he said.
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At 9 p.m., the villagers were still digging the rubble, trying to save the miners.
Rescue efforts were no easy feat as villagers had to refuel their generators to pump water from the mines.
“We don’t know if the 27 miners from the well have been rescued. We (the miners) just saved the ones we could get our hands on. It is unfortunate that the county does not have the structures to respond to such an emergency, ”said Michael Magambo.
In March last year, Kakamega vice-governor Philip Kutima ordered all gold mines in the county to be closed for being a weak link in the spread of the coronavirus.
It is not known how the ban was lifted.
According to research by the Alliance for Responsible Mining in Kenya, artisanal and small-scale mining continues to remain an important source of employment for Kenyans.
“Around 146,000 people were working in small-scale mining in Kenya in 2012, with large-scale mining companies (LSMs) employing around 9,000 workers,” the report released in 2018 said.