One person has died and another hospitalised after they suffocated in a mining tunnel in Mwatate, Taita Taveta County.
The body of the man was retrieved from the tunnel at Mkuki on Tuesday evening by his colleagues who were working at the gemstone mine.
Mkuki mining CBO chairman Reuben Mwawughanga said the second person who was unconscious at the time of the rescue was rushed to Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi for treatment.
Mr Mwawughanga said the two were draining water from the mine when the incident happened.
"We recently resumed work here after closing for almost two months after the government ordered the closure of mining sites to stop the spread of the coronavirus. While we were away the mines were filled with water due to the rains. The workers were removing the water for them to resume works at their mine," he said.
Confirming the incident, Mwatate Deputy County Commissioner Damaris Kimondo said the miners were rescued and rushed to hospital where one was pronounced dead on arrival.
"They were pulled out by other miners who realised they were unresponsive and reported to their colleagues who were outside the mine," she said.
APPEAL FOR EQUIPMENT
Small scale miners in the area urged the government to upgrade safety standards in the mines by equipping them with modern technologies to prevent such accidents.
"The government should equip us with modern machines to help us avoid such accidents," said Edward Mwamburi, a miner.
Last year, three miners died after the roof of their underground gemstone tunnel in Kasigau, Voi Sub-County collapsed and trapped them in.