File photo: Numerous tunnel shafts can be seen in Koflatie, Mali, on October 28, 2014. © Sebastien Rieussec, AFP / File picture

More than 70 people were killed after a tunnel collapsed at a Malian gold mining site last week, a local gold mining group leader and a local official told AFP on Wednesday.

“It started with a noise. The earth started to shake. There were over 200 gold miners in the field. The search is over now. We’ve found 73 bodies,” Oumar Sidibe, an official for gold miners in the southwestern town of Kangaba, told AFP, of the incident on Friday.

The same toll was confirmed by a local councillor.

Mali’s ministry of mines in a statement on Tuesday had announced the death of several miners but did not give precise figures.

The government offered its “deepest condolences to the grieving families and to the Malian people”.

“communities living near mining sites and gold miners to scrupulously respect safety requirements and to work only within the perimeters dedicated to gold panning”.

Mali, which is among the world’s poorest countries, is one of Africa’s leading gold producers.

Gold mining sites are regularly the scene of deadly landslides and authorities struggle to control artisanal mining of the metal.

Mali produced 72.2 tonnes of gold in 2022 and the metal contributed 25 percent of the national budget, 75 percent of export earnings and 10 percent of GDP, the then minister of mines Lamine Seydou Traore said in March last year.


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