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21.02.2007 General News

Rescue Team Finds Two Dead Bodies

A combined team made up of members of the AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) rescue team, the police and mine authorities has found two dead bodies in a pit at the West Walley Shaft in the company's Obuasi Mine.

The team was, however, unable to retrieve the dead bodies because it was too risky to do so.

The Managing Director of AGA, Obuasi Mine, Mr Daniel Spies, who announced this, said the company was seriously studying the terrain in order to design appropriate strategies to retrieve the bodies.

Briefing the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, who was on a visit to Obuasi, Mr Spies said the authorities at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) had confirmed that there were two seriously injured persons on admission at the hospital.

He said efforts were being made to ascertain whether they were part of the gang of illegal miners who were trapped underground last Sunday evening.

They gave the names of the injured as Anthony Musah, 22, and Dakora Batuye, 25.

Mr Spies said the rescue team managed to locate the accident scene with the help of information provided by volunteers.

He said following the information, an illegal miner led the General Manager for Underground Services to the location at the West Walley Shaft Level 7, which was about 700 feet underground.

He said the rescue team found the two dead bodies buried under a big rock and there was the possibility that there might be other bodies underground.

He said the management of AGA Obuasi heard of the tragedy at about 8.00 p.m. on Sunday night and directed the rescue team to move into action and it searched throughout the night until 3.25 a.m. but could not come up with any information as to where the trapped miners were located.

He said the team continued with the search the next day, after some volunteers had informed the company on the possible location of the trapped illegal miners, and that yielded results when the rescue team found the two dead bodies buried under the rubble.

He said the company valued human life, noting that it would continue with the rescue mission until all the dead bodies were retrieved.

Mr Asamoah-Boateng, who was accompanied on the trip by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Obuasi, Mr Edward Ennin, the Obuasi Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Joseph Boampong, and other dignitaries, expressed the government's condolences to the bereaved families and thanked AGA for the efforts it was making to retrieve the dead bodied from the pit.

He, however, appealed to the people of Obuasi to embrace the alternative livelihood projects put together by the Sustainable Development Unit of the company as one of the means to help reduce such unfortunate incidents.

As of press time reports said Anthony Musah's family was busily mobilising funds to pay the initial deposit to enable doctors to perform a surgical operation on his eyes which were almost popping out.

The hospital authorities said Dakora Batuye would also undergo surgery.

Members of a gang of illegal miners were trapped underground on Sunday evening after they had detonated an explosive device.

A rescue team of the AGA Mines security and the police tried for more than 30 hours without being able to locate the scene of the accident.

The number of illegal miners trapped in the accident was unknown and the management of the Obuasi Mine made a special appeal to chiefs, opinion leaders and all and sundry to volunteer information which could help to locate the accident scene to facilitate the rescuing of the trapped victims.

It also provided an unspecified amount of money as a reward for any information which might help to locate the accident scene and facilitate the rescue operation.

Story by Boniface Ablekpe