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Two dead as gold mine collapses in Kakamega

16 June 2015, 22:15

Nairobi - Two miners were buried alive while three others narrowly escaped death after a quarry collapsed on Tuesday in Ikolomani, Kakamega.

The deceased two brothers Fredrick Inyama 28 and Mark Muhatia 22 succumbed after the mining tunnel was washed by raging waters in the 11 pm incident.

The two were excavating gold from the famed Ikolomani Ikolomani Gold mines when the accident occurred.

“We were about to leave for supper as the next shift comes in to replace us. I was in the tunnel waiting for the witch to lift us up. One my colleague warned that we leave quickly because we have hit water. Suddenly, raging water came from nowhere. I saw floods and had to try and escape,” said Chrispinus Imbwaka,a survivor.

The deceased have left behind one child each.

“The water was quickly filling up the tunnel and it was everyone for himself. Three of us managed to climb over 40 feet to the ground but our brothers were overpowered by water as the tunnel collapsed with them,” said Imbwaka.

James Mushira, the uncle to the deceased said the water could have come from various mining holes left by European miners in the early sixties.

“The ministry of mining in partnership with the county government needs to fill this holes. They pose a risk especially to children, elderly and livestock. We lose at least one person or animal monthly in these holes. They are filled with water and as we speak, most of them are collapsing. It’s dangerous,” said Mushira.

He appealed to both governments to give miners modern equipment for excavation saying failure, more lives will be lost as high rate of poverty forces most locals to risk their lives in search of the precious stones.

“Last month, one person drowned in one of the holes trying to rescue his cattle. Earlier another died in Mukaisi village a few kilometers from here in the mining tunnels and many have died inside the tunnels. How long are we going to lose our sons?” asked Mushira.

Jonathan Koech, Ikolomani sub county AP Commander said police are working together with the public in efforts to retrieve the bodies from the tunnels.

“We have been here since yesterday night around 2am and up to now we are yet to recover even one body. We have withdrawn water and now believe we will retrieve them before the end of the day,” said Koech

He however cautioned residents to avoid excavating the minerals during rainy seasons.

“The heavy rainfalls have made soils loose and tunnels are likely to collapse. Residents  need to be more careful to avoid such incidences,” said Koech.

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