Uganda: Two Remain Trapped in Gold Pit Five Days Later

4 September 2019

An operation is underway to rescue two artisanal miners, who have been trapped in an 80-feet gold pit since Friday evening at Lujingi D Village in Kitumbi Sub-county, Kassanda District.

However, hope of finding the victims alive is fading as their ordeal enters the fifth day.

Police identified the victims as John Byamukama, 24, a resident of Kyaluwolera Village, and Nathan Muyingo, 24, a resident of Lujinji D Village, both in Kassanda District.

Mr Norbert Ochom, the Wamala Regional police spokesperson, said the rescue commenced on Saturday morning, but by yesterday morning, they had not registered any success.

"Our rescue team is still on the ground, but we can hardly hear any screams coming from underneath the mining shafts. It will be a miracle to find the victims alive," he said yesterday.

Mr Ochom said the scene of the incident is among the illegal mining sites and residents had been warned of in vain.

"We have tried to prevent people from entering those illegal mines, but they keep going there. We are going to sit and find a lasting solution," he said.

Mr Daniel Mukuye, the chairperson of Lujinji D village, said he learnt about the incident after a one James, also a gold miner, informed him that two of his colleagues had been trapped in the gold pit after it suddenly collapsed on them.

"Byamukama was the first to get trapped in the rubble and when Muyingo tried to help by removing the soil, the entire pit caved in, trapping both of them. We hurried to reach the site, but the soil was too soggy and heavy and we opted to seek police help," he added.

"It's now close to five days, but we have failed to find the bodies." Mr Mukuye said.

Mr Mukuye said there is need to provide them with excavators to enable them pull out the bodies.

He said police had promised to ferry in more powerful equipment yesterday afternoon to boost the rescue efforts.


Last year, police and Uganda People's Defence Forces were deployed in the gold mining sites in Bukuya Sub-county in Kassanda District and demolished all the makeshift structures which were being used by artisanal miners.

Government said the miners were making money without paying taxes and deprived the government of revenue.

This prompted the ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to start licensing companies and individuals involved in the trade.

Kassanda District has four gold mines in Kitumbi and Kalwana sub-counties that have witnessed emergence of small townships populated by labourers and traders seeking to eke out a living at the mines and auxiliary businesses.

The gold mines are mostly operated by artisanal miners, who extract sand and wash it off to get gold.

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