Search suspended for 6 missing in southern Rwanda mine collapse

By Xinhua
On 8 May 2023 at 06:46

The search for at least six artisanal miners who were reported missing after a quartzite mine collapsed in Kinazi sector, Huye district in Southern province, has been suspended, according to a Rwandan government official who made the announcement late on Saturday.

Alain Mukuralinda, the deputy government spokesperson, told national broadcaster Rwanda Television that the search had been called off after 16 days of searching yielded no results.

"After 16 days of searching for the six people who went missing in a collapsed mine in Huye District, the government of Rwanda has concluded that the search activities had to stop due to the fact that there was no hope of finding them," he said.

Mukuralinda added that the government of Rwanda had done all it could to search for the missing miners, but the search yielded no results despite digging 70 meters deep.

He also noted that excavating further below the current depth of 70 meters would pose a significant threat to the environment.

According to him, the families of the victims have decided to hold funerals, and the government is supporting them by honoring their wishes and offering support to keep them close during this difficult time.

Last week, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau arrested 10 people allegedly in connection with the illegal quartzite mine disaster. The suspects include a retired soldier and local leaders on suspicion of engaging in illegal mining activities, involuntary homicide, and abusing their legal powers for personal gain.

Accidents are often reported at artisanal mining sites, where miners work discreetly to avoid inspection from authorities.

According to a recent report by the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board mine accidents have killed at least 429 people and injured 272 in a period of five years.

The report further shows that 337 mine accidents were recorded from July 2018 to the end of 2022.

The report indicates that of the 337 mine accidents, 252 happened in mines owned by companies that were legally operating, while 85 accidents happened in sites owned by companies that were operating illegally.

Currently, 109 areas with illegal mining activities across the country have been identified. Rwanda aims to generate 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in annual revenues from mineral exports by 2024.