Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after an informal gold mine collapsed in western Liberia, according to officials.
The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) initially said the death toll was at least two people following the incident at Grand Cape Mount county, but local officials estimated many more were likely killed.
“Fourteen persons ranging from ages 20 to 28 visited a mine site overnight to illegally dig gravel believed to contain gold. Four of them were entrapped leaving two dead and two injured,” Archievego Doe, a spokesman for the NDMA, said on Tuesday.
But Edwin Koha, the mayor of the county’s administrative centre, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that approximately 50 people were missing. Later on Tuesday, he told state radio that 60 people had been killed, according to Reuters.
Separately, Junior Sports Minister Milias Sheriff told AFP news agency: “Approximately 50 persons have died and the rescue team is searching for the missing ones.” He did not give further details.
A junior spokesman for the presidency confirmed the accident but did not give figures.
“We have not yet got any concrete information from there. Some people are saying 50, others say more than 50,” Smith Tobey said on Tuesday.
“The internal affairs ministry officials and some officials of the lands, mine and energy have gone there but no word from them yet.”