Gold Mine Collapse Kills at Least 25 in Central African Republic

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Written by Makula Dunbar

Written by Crispin Dembassa-Kette | From Reuters

At least 25 people died when a gold mine collapsed near the Central African Republic town of Bambari, a spokesman for the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels which run the mine said on Friday.

The mine at Ndassima is carved deep into a forested hilltop about 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Seleka’s military headquarters in Bambari. It is owned by Canada’s Axmin but was overrun by rebels more than a year ago and now forms part of an illicit economy driving sectarian conflict in the country.

At least 27 artisanal miners were buried in the collapse of the mine on Thursday and 25 bodies have been retrieved, Ahmat Negat, the rebel group’s spokesman, said.

The mine collapse is the latest setback for the country, which has been beset by sectarian violence between the Seleka rebels and Christian militia for over a year. Interim President Catherine Samba Panza on Friday stepped up plans to form a new government in a bid to help stabilize the mineral-rich country.

A senior official at the Ministry of Mines confirmed the mine collapse and casualties. He said the mine did not follow regulations and miners were working in dangerous conditions.

“Nobody from our service is on the ground to regulate the miners so they dig without any rules. Lower than three metres it gets dangerous and with rain there can be collapses,” the official, Georges Yacinth-Oubaouba, told Reuters.

At Ndassima, labourers toil under the gaze of Seleka gunmen to produce some 15 kilos of gold a month. This is worth roughly $350,000 on the local market, or double that in international trade.

Read more at Reuters