Reports reaching DAILY GUIDE indicate that 17 illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ operators at Kyekyewere near Dunkwa-On-Offin in the Central Region, have been buried alive after an abandoned mine pit caved in on them.
Their bodies were subsequently retrieved and deposited at the Dunkwa-On-Offin Government Hospital morgue for autopsy while others who sustained injuries were rushed to the hospital.
According to an eyewitness, 21 people working in the pit were trapped but 16 were removed dead while five people, who were in critical condition, were taken to the hospital of which one died later bringing the death toll to 17 as at press time yesterday.
Briefing DAILY GUIDE, an eyewitness, Kobina Ansah, noted that the incident happened around 8:30am when the miners were trapped in the pit, which had been used by a Chinese mining company.
Kobina Ansah said the 16 bodies earlier retrieved comprised three females and 13 males, who were said to be between the ages of 20 and 50.
He stated that 12 of the bodies had been identified while the remaining four were yet to be identified.
The source noted that those who had been identified included Kofi Amankwah aka Okonfo, Kojo Afful, Papa Abroso, Sister Ama, Clement Abukir, Kwame Appiah all from Amoafo around the area.
The rest were Uncle Yaw, Atta Panyin, Sister Shettu, Kobina Abanga, Brother Kweku, Brother Kwesi and Kwesi Kow also from Kyekyewere.
Mr Ansah added that personnel from the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service as well as the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) helped in retrieving the bodies.
Efforts to speak to the District Police Commander, Chief Supt William Otoo Larbi, proved futile since his mobile phone was switched off.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Upper West Denkyira, Kofi Owush Ashia, who confirmed the accident to Joy News, said the mining company was owned by Gold First Mining Enterprise.
He said the mining firm applied for a licence to operate, but had not been permitted to work there. “Until you get the licence you don’t work,” he said.
He said about 30 persons were there when the mine caved in.
He noted that until the incident, all efforts to drive the illegal miners away were fiercely resisted by the miners.
Four workers, a machine operator and the owner of the site have been invited by the Police to assist in investigations.
Among the deceased were a couple, a mother and her son, who was a second year student at the Dunkwa Senior High School.
Mr Ashia said rescuers would have to do their best to get more survivors or retrieve the remaining bodies before the team wound up.
‘By our custom we don’t work here on Tuesday,’ the MCE said, adding that apart from today the rescuers could only continue their search on Wednesday.
From Sarah Afful, Cape Coast