The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Murang'a Boy, 14, Killed As Sand Mine Caves in

A 14-year-old was yesterday killed when a sand mine caved in and buried him alive in Murang'a. Festus Mwangi was collecting sand when heavy rocks collapsed on him, killing him instantly.

Chief Mary Maina said Mwangi was awaiting admission to form one as he had received his KCPE results three weeks ago. "The boy sat for his KCPE exam last year at Rurii Primary School and was about to join form one," Maina said.

She said the boy was alone in the cave when the incident occurred. "No one could save him as he was alone in the cave. His colleagues who had gone for lunch found him dead when they returned," Maina said.

Mwangi's body was moved to the Murang'a District Hospital mortuary. The incident came a few months after a middle-aged-man died when the cave he was harvesting sand in collapsed in the nearby Thangati village.

Two weeks ago, a ban on sand mining was lifted by the area National Environmental Management Authority. The authority had banned the mining saying it was destroying the environment.

The authority did not however ban deep excavation because it is a "death trap". Environment officer Patrick Leketin asked the miners to fill their pits with soil and to plant trees and grass to prevent soil erosion.

Sand harvesting is the main source of income in the area and attracts the majority of the youth. John Kiiru, a resident, said more than five people die every year while harvesting sand.

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