According to authorities, more than 70 people have been killed in the collapse of a tunnel in an informally operated gold mine in southeastern Mali. The incident is being described as an accident, but the cause of the disaster is still unknown. “It all started with a rumbling. The earth began to shake,” said Oumar Sidibé, a representative of the gold washers.
The tunnel collapsed last Friday. The Ministry of Mines of the West African country deeply regretted the accident and urged miners and communities in the vicinity to adhere to safety regulations.
Baye Coulibaly, a spokesperson for the ministry, said that the gold washers had been digging tunnels without complying with the required standards. “We have repeatedly advised them against it, to no avail,” said Coulibaly. Karim Berthé from the mining authority called for the state to regulate this small-scale mining to prevent such accidents in the future.
Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, is one of the largest gold producers globally. Deadly accidents frequently occur in the country’s pits and mines. Gold washers often put themselves in risky situations in search of the precious metal, and safety regulations are lax and not adequately enforced.