Birim North ‘galamsey’ pit collapse… 7 dead, 5 injured, many feared trapped

Volunteers retriving a body from the pit
Volunteers retriving a body from the pit
Seven persons have lost their lives after an illegal mining (galamsey) pit in which they were working at Korle Teye (Takoroso site) in the Birim North of the Eastern Region, collapsed.

The bodies of the deceased, who are yet to be identified, have since been sent to the mortuary of the Holy Family Hospital in Nkawkaw while five others who were injured are receiving treatment at the same hospital

Others are believed to be still trapped under the debris.

In all, 26 others were said to have been stuck before the rescue operation.

It is unclear what caused the collapse of the pit, but some community members suggest that the heavy rainfall recorded in most parts of the country on Monday is a contributing factor.

An eye witness, Yaa Yeboah, told the Ghanaian Times that the incident occurred at about 10am on Monday, when the illegal miners were said to have been on site engaging in their ordeal.

She said as at the time of the incident, only the locals and some policemen were at the scene trying to rescue the victims.

She said some indigenes of the town tried to prevent anybody from taking photographs to prevent them from drawing attention to the incident.

Efforts by the Ghanaian Times to reach officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation, the Police and the Fire Service proved futile as calls on them were unsuccessful.

However, JoyNews reports that Deputy NADMO Director, Douglas Adomako, has said that the remaining miners said to have been trapped under a caved pit may have escaped through another route.

However he said the three persons who were rescued were responding to treatment at the hospital.

The Unit Committee Secretary of the area, Emmanuel Okyere, said the casualty rate could have been higher, given that many miners went down the tunnel to work despite Monday’s heavy rains.

He said when they heard of the accident, they mobilised to attempt to rescue the trapped, however their efforts yielded only seven dead bodies.

Asked about the state of one of the miners, he said the committee was yet to confirm from the hospital if one of those rescued with injuries was dead as being speculated.

In addition to destruction of forest cover, pollution of river bodies, and other challenges, illegal mining is taking many lives and causing injury to others through the collapse of galamsey pits.

Here are some reported incidents.

On May 26, 2021, three unidentified persons were confirmed dead after a galamsey pit collapsed on them at Breman, a mining community in the Upper Denkyira West District of the Central Region.

The deceased included a man, a woman and a girl believed to be 10 years old. Forty others, believed to be between the ages of 24 and 35 years, were also trapped in the pit.

Some 10 miners were confirmed dead on November 25, 2021, after a mining pit collapsed at Wassa Esikuma in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region.

Four others were also severely injured and were rushed to the Tarkwa Government Hospital.

Last year, precisely on March 18, 2022, two pregnant women allegedly engaged in illegal mining also known as galamsey died in a galamsey pit at Denkyira-Ayanfuri in the Central Region.

On January 30, this year, it was reported that a young man in his twenties, died in a galamsey pit in Denkyira of the Kwahu West District where he was to be gathering sand.

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