Mine cave-ins claim 22 in DRC

Two cave-ins at a gold mine killed at least 22 miners late last month at Lunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province, local officials said on Friday.

Those who died in the successive accidents on May 28 and 30 were local gold-diggers working at the mine near the town of Kalemie, nearly 600km north of Lubumbashi, the chief town of the mineral-rich south-eastern province, officials in the region said.

Many people in the vast Central African country, ravaged by successive wars that ended in 2003 and short on infrastructure, scrape a living by working as freelance gold and diamond miners at sites such as Lunga.

Officials said the terrain there is dangerous, with a clay surface but a sandstone rock and soil layer beneath in the galleries dug by people from Kalemie and nearby Nyunzu and Mushaba who come to seek gold.

Several mudslides and cave-ins have taken place at Lunga in recent years.

Two weeks ago, a landslide in the same pit killed about 10 people. Officials then pressed the diggers to wear helmets and work only in daytime, but many fail to follow safety rules and the mine galleries are badly maintained and shored up.—Sapa-AFP

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