Gold mine in Tanzania collapses, at least 20 dead

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Local media reported on Tuesday that a gold mine collapsed in northwestern Tanzania on Sunday, killing at least twenty people. According to reports, the incident occurred at Geita region when the 100-metre-deep shaft the miners were working in collapsed after being flooded by heavy seasonal rains. Some media reports say that thirty people might have been killed by the accident.

File photo: Flooded level, West Driefontein mine. The dolomite overlying the gold reefs hosts much groundwater, giving the mines flooding problems.

"I know there is no hope of finding anybody alive," said Kelega Chacha, a miner who left the site soon before the mine's collapse. "We will just have to look for the bodies to give them a decent burial."

A local newspaper, The African, quoted Donald Mremi, the Geita District Mines Officer, as saying that rescue efforts were hampered due to poor equipment. The African also reported that a dozen of the bodies of the victims have already been identified.

Tanzania is the third largest producer of gold in Africa. Much of its output is produced by international firms running large operations. Smaller-scale mines, however, can be quite dangerous, and frequently lack proper safety equipment. Over 45 people were killed in a northern Tanzanian mine in 2008 after the mines they were working it were flooded. In another incident in 2002, a compressor used to provide miners inside the shafts broke down, causing those inside to suffocate.