At least 37 gold miners were killed and many others injured in the Central African Republic (CAR) when a pit in which they were working collapsed after heavy rains, the country’s presidency has announced.
The incident occurred last weekend at a gold mine in Ndassima, about 270 miles east of the capital, Bangui. The area lies within the control of the former rebels of the Seleka alliance, who ousted president Francois Bozize in March.
President Michel Djotodia has declared three days of national mourning.
“The toll of 37 is provisional as there were many injured,” said Prosper Ndouba, spokesman for the president’s office, adding that 10 injured miners had been rescued but there were an unknown number of bodies still buried after the accident.
The CAR has endured decades of instability and unrest, yet the former French colony is also rich in gold and diamonds. However, much of this resource is smuggled out of the country clandestinely. The World Trade Organisation estimates that the mining sector accounts for about 7% of the country’s GDP.