Liberia: Community Wants Govt to Help Rescue Trapped Miners

About 40 miners are still deep underground buried under mud and debris while in search for gold in the Kartee gold mines located in Gboanipea, about 10 kilometers away from Tappita, in District Number Six, Nimba County.

Kartee's Village in Gbanepea, Nimba County, where relatives of missing miners are based.

... At Gbanepea gold mine

Alluvial miners from various communities in Nimba County have deployed a 'country devil' at the Gbanepea Gold Mine in Gbanepea, Tappita District, where the recent landslide took place and was reported to have claimed more than 40 lives, have called for government's intervention for the removal of those killed, for proper burial.

They are asking the government to provide body bags, personal protective equipment/PPE and food to enable them to get to the business of removing the dead bodies from where they are covered in the mines.

Members of the group have been keeping law and order in the area since the latest disaster. A representative of the group said the place is getting polluted with the smell of rotten corpses and it is making it unbearable for people to stay around so they are waiting for the go-ahead from the government to begin the process of searching for and removing any of the bodies.

Five persons were confirmed dead, two of them, including a 9th-grade student of Tappita Methodist School have already been buried by relatives because their bodies were not too deep in the hole. There is still hope that the remaining 35 or so miners trapped under the debris are still alive to be rescued.

No one is able to reach the site due to the presence of the country devil but, on the evening of Tuesday, February 12, it was speculated that the 'country devil' left the area in the morning hours.

There is no presence of police officers in the area since the incident, creating concern among citizens, who are asking "Why the government has not responded till now?"

In spite of the glaring safety risks, alluvial miners relentlessly swarm the area, looking for gold.

The speculation in Tappita City and its' surroundings is that the number of those trapped or killed is high, with many counting the casualty figure to be more than 40, while others think it could be below 40.

Up to the present, nobody knows who is going to accept the responsibility or liability of the disaster, as the whereabouts of the head miner, Papa Kartee, remains unknown.

However, the Statutory Superintendent Mr. Audrey Wheye is discussing with the Jackson F. Doe Hospital to provide some PPE and some body bags for the removal of the corpses.

In response to the unauthorized opening of the mine, which resulted to the recent disaster, Wheye has ordered the Liberia National Police to arrest Papa Kartee for taking men to the field on Friday, February 8, 2019, after reaching an MOU with a group to jointly mine the gold field.

Mr. Wheye said Papa Kartee's action prompted the latest rush that resulted in the disaster.

On Friday, it was reported that Kartee and a man identified as Sackoh reached an agreement to jointly mine the gold field under the company name of "SAKAMICO," an acronym for "Sackoh Kartee Mining Company."

Upon the signing of the MOU, it was alleged that Kartee took some men on the field overnight, where several bags of gravel were dug for him and, after that, it was announced "last rush," prompting a stampede, with everybody finding their own way to get gravel for themselves.

Prince Leaman, one of the survivors undergoing treatment at the JFD Hospital, told the Daily Observer, "I was in the hole and I saw a pillar of gold. While pulling it, the land broke on me, leaving only my head outside."

He and four others were taken to the hospital for treatment, but the hospital authorities said, since the mining began in September last year, miners in such conditions are brought under emergency conditions for treatment.

With the present case, all those brought to the hospital were treated, except Leaman, whose condition is stable, according to hospital officials.

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