About 50 people are feared dead after an artisanal gold mine flooded in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rains.
The accident in the makeshift mine occurred on Friday in the town of Kamituga, in South Kivu province, about 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the regional capital Bukavu.
Rescue workers began to bring first bodies to the surface after the accident.
Torrential rain had flooded a river close to the mine according to eye witnesses.
South Kivu governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi deplored “the tragic deaths of 50 people, most of them young”. However, Kamituga mayor Alexandre Bundya said “we are not yet sure of the exact number” of victims.
President Felix Tshisekedi said he was “deeply saddened” and asked the government to “take strong measures so that such tragedies are not repeated.”A local resident at the scene, Jean Nondo Mukambilwa, told KnowAfrika that only one body had been found so far.
In June 2019, at least 39 men died when a copper mine in Kolwezi, in the southeastern Katanga region, partially collapsed.
Congo has huge reserves of gold, cobalt, copper and coltan.
It is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, crucial for making the batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles.