10 May 2018

Kenya: Hopes Dashed as All Bodies of Migori Trapped Miners Retrieved

Photo: Benson Momanyi/Daily Nation
The scene at Macalder village in Nyatike, Migori County where a mining tunnel caved in trapping six miners on May 8, 2018.

Six bodies of the gold miners who were buried alive in Migori County have been retrieved, ending any glimmers of hope the distraught family members had of their kin being found alive.

They were removed on Wednesday night after a 24-hour search.

The victims were trapped on Tuesday night after a tunnel caved in following heavy rains.

An excavator assisted in the evacuation of the bodies.

Migori County Commander Joseph Nthenge identified the victims as Michael Otieno, David Ochieng, Isaya Ooko, Joseph Otieno, Pascal Omondi and Ochieng Mwalimu.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado supervised the evacuation process that ended on Wednesday at 8pm.

Six still trapped in Migori mine

Rescue efforts were delayed for more than 15 hours as county officials searched for an excavator.

Impatient villagers keen to rescue their kin had decided to use fireworks to try and break the rocky barriers and reach the miners.

Bodies of the victims, were moved to the Migori County Referral Hospital mortuary, awaiting burial.

Governor Obado admitted that the county's earth movers had been grounded, forcing them to hire the one which was deployed at the scene late.

"As a county government, we still face a lot of challenges in our disaster preparedness and we need support from the national government. Since mining is not a devolved function, we want the government to introduce safe mining methods so that we avert deaths of our people in this region," he said.

PAIN

Distraught relatives kept vigil at the scene where some said silent prayers as others shed tears with helplessness creeping in as each hour passed. One woman carried a baby on her back as she wandered the rocky patches, wailing uncontrollably.

Nyatike MP Tom Odege said in a statement that the rescue mission was very slow and badly organised.

"The government had been very slow to send rescue teams on the ground thus dimming our hopes to find the miners alive. We want the national government to urgently establish the proposed Disaster Management Authority," he said.

In Migori, where some gold deposits are scattered around Nyatike, miners often risk it all with crude tools to try and find the precious metals. It is often fraught with accidents where workers get buried alive.

Two weeks ago, two miners died when another tunnel collapsed at the Kehancha mines in Kuria West sub-County.

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