A mine has collapsed in Ghana's central gold-producing region killing at least 16 people who were working illegally and had been told to leave by the operator, local police have said.

... the mine caved in and covered the people

Police commander

A total of 16 bodies were recovered from the site of the incident near the town of Kyekyewere on Monday afternoon, according to area police commander William Otu. The town is about 300km north of the capital Accra.

The operator had completed its work in the area and had returned only to shut down the mine and affirm its claim to the land, Otu added, without identifying the company.

Otu said the operator found several people from the local community mining illegally, who refused when asked to leave.

Not long after, "the operator got information that the mine caved in and covered the people," the police commander said.

The west African nation of about 25 million people is one of the world's top gold exporters.

Many of the mining operations revolve around unlicensed - and hence illegal - outfits, known locally as galamsey, which are often funded by foreign speculators and criminals.

According to an Al Jazeera investigation, some of the operators even employ children, and pay less than six US dollars a day, in "primitive" working conditions.

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies