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Three miners die after a mine collapses in Voi

Three miners died on Saturday morning after an underground gemstone-mining tunnel collapsed and trapped them at Kasighau area in Voi sub-county.
Four others were critically injured and were rushed to St. Joseph Mission Hospital at Ikanga on the outskirts of Voi town for specialized treatment.
County chairperson for artisanal miners Mr. David Zowe said the accident occurred after a weakened zone of the tunnel caved in while the miners were already inside.
“The tunnel collapsed and we lost three miners. The injured ones have been rushed to hospital and we hope they recover soon,” he said.
Residents say the miners had used dynamite to blast a section of the mine to clear the rocks. The magnitude of the blast and accompanying vibrations weakened the mine walls leading to the Saturday tragic incident.
The rescue operation lasted for over four hours as miners and well-wishers used shovels to dig out the victims. Police took the bodies to Moi County Referral Hospital Mortuary for postmortem.
The accident brings to the fore the perils artisanal miners face in the region. Mining is a risky job fraught with danger. The miners are known to make underground tunnels that are hundreds of feet deep in pursuit of streams of gemstones.
Due to poor funding, such miners use simple tools like spades, chisels and mattocks and often lack proper safety outfits such as helmets, gloves and breathing apparatus should they dig too deep.
The tragedy occurred at Kasighau ranch at a mining site which is at the center of a year-long bitter court battle between the locals and a mining investor. The locals are agitating for the removal of the investor who had been doing mining activities in the region for decades.
Mr. Alez Mbalau, a resident, said the mining community in Kasighau was devastated by the tragedy. He said that other miners have started pulling down their houses located within the mining area over speculations that police planned to forcefully evict them.
“Miners are moving out now because they fear police will come and forcefully evict them from this land,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi

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