Five gold miners from Kehancha in Kuria West, Migori County are lucky to be alive after they were pulled from a collapsed mine on Friday, 24 hours after it caved in on them.
Weakened and horrified by the near-death experience, the five, whose names police are yet to reveal, were pulled out of mounds of clay and rushed to hospital.
Fellow miners, who sought anonymity, said they could not reveal the names because they were involved in illegal prospecting.
Pit caved in
Residents joined the miners and frantically dug out the soil using hoes and spades to reach the group, after the pit caved in on Wednesday evening.
Moses Marwa, who led locals in the rescue mission, said the pit collapsed after heavy rains.
“The miners were trapped in the pit on Wednesday evening after a heavy downpour. We embarked on rescue efforts which went on the whole of yesterday (Thursday). We are glad they were saved,” said Marwa.
He recounted how they forced a pipe through the thick mound of clay to get water and porridge to the miners.
“We were saved the miners from hunger by using a pipe to feed them,” said Marwa.
The victims were taken to different hospitals in Kehancha town, he said. Two of them are in critical condition.
Kuria West Deputy County Commissioner Machira Gathungu said the land on which the residents were mining from is public and is meant for construction of a stadium.
“Mining on this land was banned a while back but miners keep coming back to carry out their activities without our knowledge,” said Mr Gathungu. He added: “With the rains still on, it is unsafe for them to come out here because the walls of the pits are weakened.”
Paul Rioba, a miner, said most youth took the dangerous path due to lack of alternative sources of livelihood.
“The government wants us to get out of these mines but where do we get our daily bread? This activity has helped unemployed youth to shun crime,” said Mr Rioba.