Darfur gold mine collapse kills more than 60

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A general view shows the Ariab company gold mine in the Sudanese desert, 800km northeast of the capital Khartoum, on October 3, 2011.

Credit:

ASHRAF SHAZLY

More than 60 workers died in Darfur this week when an unlicensed gold mine collapsed.

"The number of people who died is more than 60," said local commissioner Haroun al-Hassan. "I cannot give exact figures because no one got precise numbers of how many people were going inside the tunnel."

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The number of missing after Monday's accident in Jebel Amir district, more than 200km northwest of El Fasher, is still unknown.

Word of the collapse in the 40-meter tunnel only reached Khartoum on Thursday, and witnesses said rescue efforts have failed.

Rescuers used traditional tools to try to reach the miners feared still trapped in the rubble, but witnesses said rescue efforts have failed.

"We cannot use machines because if they came near, the ground will collapse. People are using traditional tools and because of this, the rescue is very slow," Hassan said

Two Arab tribes have been fighting over land and mining rights in the area, killing hundreds of people. Thousands have also been sent into camps for internally displaced people because of the violence.

Production from illegal gold mines has become an important source of revenue for Sudan's government. Half a million miners have joined the country's gold rush, which the government estimates made $2.5 billion from exports last year.

It also said it hopes to produce around 50 tons of gold this year, which could make Sudan Africa's third-largest gold miner and put it into the top 15 producers worldwide.