Agence France-Presse

At least 37 dead in Central African Republic gold mine collapse

Men work in a gold mine on Feb. 23, 2009, in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo.


Lionel Healing

At least 37 gold miners died in Central African Republic on Sunday when the pit they were working in collapsed after heavy rains.

"The toll of 37 is provisional as there were many injured," said Prosper Ndouba, spokesman for the president's office, of the incident at a gold mine in Ndassima, about 273 miles east of the capital of Bangui.

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Ndouba said 10 miners have been rescued and an unknown number of bodies are still buried after the accident. Three days of mourning have been declared for the entire country.

Mining is CAR's most profitable industry as the former French colony is rich in gold and diamonds, but it has come under scrutiny because it has long been suspected that diamonds are used to fund rebel groups and are known as "conflict diamonds" or "blood diamonds."

The country has also endured decades of instability, with rebels coming from the north to topple the president in March.

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