Gbarnga — Rescuers retrieved one more body Tuesday from a landslide that buried part of an illegal gold mining site in Jackson Village gold mine, raising the death toll to five.
The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy office in Gbarnga, Bong County told our reporter Wednesday that the death toll could rise to up to seven as others remain unaccounted for.
Heavy rains sparked the landslide on May 6 that buried part of the landslide in the town of Gbarmu, Jorquelleh District 3.
There had been confusion over the exact number of persons missing because authorities said gold prospectors don't necessarily register themselves with local authorities and no proper census was kept.
As many of 12 people were initially reported missing, but this was later pared down after many were rescued four days after the collapse.
The Jackson Village gold mine remained closed, with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy demanding that the shutdown continues until the dead are recovered from the ruins. "This is the demand of the ministry," Cyrus Onana, the ministry's inspector told FrontPageAfrica.
"So far, we have one more person who has been confirmed dead and fears that more miners could have perished."
Onana said most of the shafts are more than 20-meters deep and the water levels have been rising. We are currently in the process of pumping out water to rescue and search for more bodies, he said.
Jackson Village gold mine is largely lawless and home to numerous gangs and traffickers seeking to profit from the gold rush in the area.