ACCRA, June 30
Authorities in Ghana held for questioning the owners of a collapsed gold mine where dozens of artisanal miners have been trapped since Sunday, police said.
Local authorities said they believe at least 32 people were trapped when the mine collapsed due to heavy flooding, with slim chances of survival. The toll could rise because not all of the 100-plus people in the mine at the time have been accounted for.
"The three owners are currently in our custody and we're questioning them," Samuel Buabeng, District Police Commander for the central region town of Dunkwa Akyempin told Reuters.
"Our immediate attention is to finish with the recovery of the bodies in order to know the actual number of people dead," he said, adding it was not clear how many had been trapped.
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Artisanal mining in precarious conditions is common across west and central Africa, a region of low formal employment but with abundant natural resources.
Buabeng said recovery efforts continued overnight with hopes of clearing the heavy flooding in the pit.
"We have deployed several pumps around the pit and the water level is going down steadily. We hope to see results by late afternoon," he added.
Municipality chief Peter Owusu-Ashia on Tuesday estimated at least 32 people were unaccounted for by leaders of gangs mining gold in the pit.
He said around 18 gangs of up to seven members each were in the pit at the time of the disaster but said some were able to exit before it totally collapsed.
He warned the casualty figure could be higher because some of the gang leaders could not be reached, possibly because they had fled the area for fear of arrest.