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Five killed as gold mine collapses in Ikolomani

WESTERN
By Robert Amalemba | May 6th 2021

Five people have died after the walls of a gold mine collapsed on them in Bushiagala in Ikolomani Sub-county, Kakamega.

Eight miners are nursing injuries at the Kakamega Country Referral Hospital after they were pulled from the rubble.

“They suffered various degree of soft tissue injuries and some were critically injured," said a firefighter at the scene.

The artisanal mine caved in at around 7pm on Thursday due to the heavy rains that have been pounding the area for the past three weeks.

Eyewitnesses say that rainwater went into the mining tunnel causing havoc.

Miners at the collapsed gold mine in Ikolomani, Kakamega. [Robert Amalemba, Standard]

At least 27 people were working at the gold mine when it collapsed.

The local chief Zacchaeus Shitandasi, said that majority of the people who were trapped in the mines are youth.

“They are majorly from this area and have been working at the site as casual labourers," he said.

By 9pm, the villagers were still digging through the rubble, trying to rescue the miners.

The rescue efforts were no mean feat as the villagers faced the challenge of refuelling their generators to pump out water from the mines.

Michael Magambo a miner who jumped in the collapsed mine to rescue his colleagues speaking to the press about the incident. (Robert Amalemba, Standard)

“We are not sure whether all of the 27 miners in the shaft have been rescued. We (miners) just saved the ones we could lay our hands on. It is regrettable that the county has no structures to respond to such an emergency,” said Michael Magambo.

In March last year, Kakamega deputy governor Philip Kutima had ordered all gold mines in the county shut for being a weak link for the spread of the coronavirus.

It is not clear how the ban was lifted.

According to research done by the Alliance for Responsible Mining in Kenya, artisanal and small-scale mining continues to remain a significant source of employment for Kenyans.

“About 146,000 people were working in small-scale mining by 2012 in Kenya as Large-scale mining (LSM) companies employ about 9,000 workers,” said the report published in 2018.

 

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