World News

Tanzania gold mine collapses, at least 20 dead

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - At least 20 people were killed in northwest Tanzania when the walls of a small gold mine collapsed, burying workers inside, local media said Tuesday.

Reports said the accident happened Sunday in Geita, Mwanza region, when the 100 meter (328 foot) deep pit they were working in was flooded by a heavy seasonal downpour. Some local media said more than 30 people might have been killed.

“I know there is no hope of finding anybody alive,” Kelega Chacha, one miner who left the site just before the disaster, told the private daily Guardian newspaper. “We will just have to look for the bodies to give them a decent burial.”

Tanzania is Africa’s third largest gold producer, with most of its output coming from big mines run by international firms.

But fatal accidents are common at the country’s other small-scale operations, which often lack basic safety equipment. More than 45 people were killed in the north last year when the gemstone pits they were working in flooded.

A similar number suffocated in 2002 when a compressor used to pump clean air into another gemstone mine malfunctioned.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Charles Dick