More than a dozen people have been killed after an unlicensed gold mine collapsed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government said.
The accident happened at Kampene, some 180km (110 miles) south of Kindu town, Steve Mbikayi, minister of national solidarity and humanitarian action, said on Wednesday.
“Fourteen dead, three hospitalised with serious injuries. Search continuing,” Mbikayi wrote on Twitter, giving a provisional toll.
A civil society campaigner, Justin Kyanga Asumani, also giving a preliminary toll, said “15 bodies have been recovered, including two women”.
He was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying the accident happened at about 2pm local time, when “dozens of people, including children and pregnant women” were at work on the site.
The accident brought renewed attention to the dangers plaguing the resource-rich DRC’s informal mining sector, which has a poor safety record and a history of frequent deadly accidents.
In June, more than 40 people died at a copper concession in Kolwezi, in southeastern DRC, that was operated by Kamoto Copper Company, a subsidiary of Swiss giant Glencore.
Kyanga said the unlicensed mine in Kampene had been operating for about 10 years, a situation that underscored “the lack of oversight and the inactivity by state bodies”.