- At least 31 illegal gold miners were killed and dozens more are reported missing following a mine collapse in Burkina Faso after torrential rains, officials said.
The men were all swept away and drowned by muddy flood as they planted explosives to prospect for gold near the village of Boussoukoula, 500 kilometers southwest of Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou. Miners dug through the mud to try to rescue survivors and pull out bodies in the mining village.
Minster of social action and national solidarity, Pascaline Tamini, said those killed were aged between 21 and 40.
In June, government ordered all illegal mines to close until 30 September, during the rainy season, when badly-constructed tunnels can easily collapse.
Unlike large industrial mines, they are not registered with authorities and because there are thousands of such mines in West Africa, officials do little to enforce safety regulations.
Director general of mining at Ministry of Mining and Energy, Seka Ki said miners hide and go for mining at night, saying current disaster is the problem with traditional mining. "That is why we do not promote traditional mining," Director General said.
National radio said the incident happened on Friday night as the men, all members of the Mossi ethnic group, dynamited at site so they could sift for gold fragments from the river mud.
Gold washing is widespread in Burkina Faso, where an estimated 200,000 people work on 200 sites, according to official data. In August 2006, a landslide killed 11 people at another gold mine west of the capital Ouagadougou.
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