At least 18 people were killed and seven others injured in southern Niger after the collapse of an artisanal mine, says the local mayor.
At least 18 people were killed when an artisanal gold mine collapsed in southern Niger near the Nigerian border, the local mayor said.
“The provisional death toll is 18 people, whom we buried this morning,” Adamou Gueraou, mayor of the Dan-Issa district, told AFP news agency on Monday.
“There were also seven hospitalized with injuries,” he said, adding that among the injured were Nigerian nationals.
Sunday’s accident was sparked when artisanal pits collapsed at the Garin-Liman mine site in the Maradi region, he said.
“Rescue operations are still continuing, it is possible that there are still bodies trapped at the bottom of the wells,” said a local source.
The Garin-Liman mines were discovered only a few months ago, but thousands of miners have flocked to the area since then.
For decades, Niger’s gold mines have drawn prospectors, particularly in the western Tillaberi region, now the scene of deadly rebel attacks, and in the north near the Libyan border.
Accidents at these sites are frequent due to unstable soil and outdated methods used by miners, according to authorities.
Several artisanal gold mines were closed in 2017 as part of the government’s efforts to modernize the industry.
Since 2004, Niger has only had one industrial mine at Samira, in the Tillaberi region.