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More than 50 killed at collapsed gold mine in eastern Congo

(People gather at the scene of a gold mine collapse near the town of Kamituga, South Kivu province, in eastern Congo Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. More than 50 people are dead after landslides collapsed three artisanal gold mines near the town of Kamituga in eastern Congo’s South Kivu province on Friday, officials said. Photo: Jeff Mwenyemali/Maisha RDC via AP)

By JEAN-YVES KAMALE, KINSHASA, Congo (AP):- More than 50 people are dead after landslides caused the collapse of three artisanal gold mines near the city of Kamituga in eastern Congo’s South Kivu province on Friday, officials said.

Heavy rains for days led to the disaster.

“The diggers and the transporters of the stones were swallowed up by the waters,” said the Kamituga mayor, Alexandre Bundya. “A team of rescuers with motor pumps came to recover the bodies of the victims.”

Diwa Honoré, who survived the tragedy, said more than 50 people had been in the three mines, which are about 50 meters (54 yards) deep.

“Kamituga is in mourning,” wrote Dieudonné Bazika, sharing a video on social media showing the aftermath. Hundreds of people gathered to observe and help in rescue efforts.

Most of the dead were young people, according to a statement from the office of the governor of South Kivu, Theo Ngwabidje Kasi, who offered condolences to families.

“Investigations continue to identify our deceased compatriots, to provide assistance and to take measures to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies,” the statement said.

Artisanal mining quarries are often unsafe in eastern Congo and the Kasai region. Women and children also work in the mines to make ends meet. Deadly collapses occurred earlier this year in Maniema and in Katanga, killing at least 18 people.

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Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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