No Hope Yet For Trapped Miners
6/30/2010 6:08:40 PM -
Rescuers struggling through heavy floods and mud at the mine disaster site in Dunkwa-on-Offin are losing hope of reaching at least 100 bodies believed to have been trapped in a pit for the past four days.
In spite of the massive mobilisation of machinery and humans for the recovery effort, not a single body has been retrieved and officials told reporters that chances of reaching the depth of the muddy and slippery site were 'slim'.
The situation has left the police, survivors and other galamsey operators in a quandary as to the true number of galamsey operators who died in the accident.
While the police, relying on information from some of the survivors, had earlier put the figure at 110, the mine owner said the number could not be more than 18.
On the fringes of the rescue operation, the few survivors painted gruesome images of how their colleagues were trapped.
When the Daily Graphic visited the site yesterday, two excavators and four water pumping machines had been deployed to seal the side of the pit that collapsed with sand and pump out the massive amount of water that had collected in it.
A massive industrial pumping machine brought in by Anglogold Ashanti to pump out the water could not be deployed because the operators could not get it across the Offin River to the accident site.
They are, therefore, mobilising more small-scale pumping machines to speed up the process.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, who was at the site, said the condition was utterly critical but gave promised that the rescuers would do everything possible to ensure the retrieval of all the bodies.
He said the exact number of people presumed dead could not be easily ascertained, as all who could provide that information had been giving varying figures.
Earlier yesterday, some local divers had taken turns to wade into the water to tie ropes around some of the bodies to pull them out but they had been unsuccessful.
The mine owner, Abubakar Sadique, was detained by the Dunkwa Municipal Police to assist in their investigations into the accident.
Survivors said the pit they had been working in had been dug very close to an old canal which had been abandoned several years ago after large-scale mining operations there had ceased.
According to one of the survivors, Atta Asuma from Wassa Akropong, while they worked, a heap of sand, which served as a barrier between the canal and the pit, had collapsed, dumping tonnes of wet sand and a huge amount of water into the pit and burying scores of his colleagues with whom he had been engaged in the illegal mining.
He said he had heard shouts from inside the pit just after it started collapsing but there was no way anyone could be rescued by the few lucky ones who escaped.