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13.09.2020 Congo

First bodies recovered at DRCongo mine accident site

No bodies have been recovered so far.  By STRINGER (AFP)
LISTEN SEP 13, 2020
No bodies have been recovered so far. By STRINGER (AFP)

Emergency workers on Sunday recovered the first bodies of miners who perished in a disaster at a makeshift goldmine in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, witnesses told AFP.

"We have already brought out 10 bodies," said Alexandre Bundya, the mayor of nearby Kamituga, a mining town in South Kivu province.

The governor of the province has said that 50 miners had died, caught underground when heavy rains flooded their mine on Friday.

Bundya said he did not know how many miners were working at the time of the flooding, but that 19 families were searching for missing loved ones.

For a second day running, hundreds of people gathered at the site as emergency workers brought the first bodies out and into nearby tents, video footage viewed by AFP showed.

While the emergency workers were working with shovels and their bare hands on Saturday, by Sunday a hydraulic shovel had been brought to the site to help them with their work.

Accidents in DR Congo's makeshift mines are common and often deadly.

In June 2019, at least 39 men died when a copper mine in Kolwezi, in the southeastern Katanga region, partially collapsed.

Because many such mines are in remote areas however, the accidents are under-reported. DR Congo has huge reserves of gold, cobalt, copper and coltan.

It is the world's largest producer of cobalt, crucial for making the batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles.

DR Congo's mineral-rich but volatile east faces regular attacks from a plethora of militias and rebel groups which operate freely in the region.

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