One person died and three others were rescued after a quarry they were mining sand collapsed burying them alive in Konoin Sub-County in Bomet County.
The 17-year-old boy died on the spot after rubble fell on him after the walls of the quarry in Taach-Asis near Kimulot shopping centre caved in. His three colleagues escaped death by a whisker after sustaining bruises as other workers moved in quickly to remove debris to rescue them.
One of them sustained serious injuries and was rushed to AIC mission Hospital in Kericho County for treatment. The two who escaped with bruises were treated at Chetalal sub-county hospital and discharged.
Authorities said Emanuel Kirui, 17, a pupil at Meswondo Primary School was leading his friends during the mining escapade.
Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) officials and members of the County Disaster Management team gave First Aid to the casualties before transporting them to hospital.
Working at the quarry mines had been declared illegal by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) but due to poverty, miners found no alternative source of earning but went back to quarries.
Satiet location acting Chief David Meridany said the parents were not aware the boys were engaging in sand mining. Maridany said the boys took advantage that there was no one around the quarry and decided to dig up sand to sell.
The administrator said underage children engaging in sand mining in the area was rampant. Maridany said, “During weekend school going children flood quarries in the area with some working with their parents.”
He regretted that the move had occasioned a huge school drop out in the area. “We also have cases of pupils dropping out to engage in mining of sand and should be addressed since it is a ticking time bomb,” he added.
County Disaster Management officer, Mr. Stanley Mutai said it took locals and Red Cross officials nearly one hour to reach the 17 feet deep ground mine to rescue the three and retrieve the body.
Mr Mutai said most quarries in the county had become death traps. “Most quarries are no longer safe to work in but because of the needs locals still risk their lives in an attempt to make a living,” Mutai said.
Mr Erick Tonui a village elder said the incident was a wakeup call on parents to bar their children from engaging in sand mining. “Children should be stopped from these activities and parents work to provide for them rather than sending them to work to buy their daily needs,” Tonui said.
He added: “This incident is an eye opener and parents should let children stay at home and not work in dangerous pits in the name of making an extra coin.”
NEMA has been asked to survey all quarries in Bomet and ensure they are closed to prevent deaths. “It is time NEMA swung into action and closed down these quarries that are not safe and arrest underage working there,” Alfred Rono a resident, said.
Rono accused NEMA of sleeping on their job saying they do not police the quarries and close them. “I do not remember the last time NEMA officials surveyed these areas and they should wake up and work,” said Rono.
Nearly a month ago another quarry collapsed in Bomet East killing one person and injuring two others.
by Joseph Obwocha