Kenya: Mine Caves in, Kills 5 in Ikolomani

Five people have died after a mine caved in in Kakamega County.

The five were among 15 people who were working at the mine in Bushangala village in Kakamega Sub-County on Thursday. The Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Chesire said a section of the mine collapsed just before dusk, trapping the group in the tunnel.

"The group had been working on the mine during heavy rains when the walls collapsed, trapping them in the tunnel," said Mr Chesire.

Mr Chesire told Nation.Africa that villagers rushed to the scene and rescued some of thr miners who were trapped in the mine. Fire fighters from Kakamega County joined police in the rescue mission.

Abandoned mines

Accidents in Ikolomani mines are common during the rainy season. Villages in Ikolomani are dotted with abandoned mines which are considered death traps to human beings and livestock.

In December 2019, the government temporarily suspended mining activities indefinitely to avert accidents during the rainy season.

Chiefs and their assistants in Ikolomani Constituency have been instructed to ensure the miners do not enter the pits to avoid calamities.

Kakamega County Commissioner Pauline Dola asked the administrators to ensure residents complied with the directive.

Ikolomani Constituency is considered the heart of mining activities in Kakamega County. Villagers usually flock the mines abandoned by the colonial administration in the 1930s to prospect for gold.

Mining activities have been reported in Savane, Shiveye, Lirembe, Isulu Shisere and Iguhu villages.

Sophisticated equipment

"We are disadvantaged because we lack the sophisticated equipment to detect gold and other minerals. But we keep digging the tunnels and risk our lives in the hope of stumbling on gold deposits," said one of the miners.

He asked the county government to support the miners to buy equipment for drilling and draining water from the pits.

Several people have lost their lives in the past after the walls of the mines caved in as they dug the tunnels while others suffered health complications after inhaling poisonous gases in the mines.

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