A mining pit that collapsed at Nsuta near Prestea in the Prestea/Huni-Valley District in the Western Region last Sunday, trapping about 22 illegal miners to death, has been covered.
The move followed a directive by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, to the rescuers on the site to halt any further search for possible survivors, six days after the incident.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the District Police Commander, Superintendent (Supt) Mr Atsu Dzineku, said a team from the Minerals Commission, Golden Star Mining Company and Rodeshow Ltd, led by Mining Superintendent, Mr Omani Frimpong, carried out the exercise to cover the mining pit and other open spaces that could pose a threat to people and the environment. The exercise lasted about five hours.
Last Sunday evening, 14 illegal small-scale (galamsey) miners at Nsuta were trapped in a mining pit which caved in.
The death toll is said to have risen to 22.
About five of their colleagues, however, escaped the tragedy.
They were Mamfi Kofi Mensah, 47; Richard Koomson, 33; Nafew Iddrisu, 21; Limann Soglo, 29; and Ernest Akambi.
The identities of nine of those believed to have been trapped to death were given by the police as Kwabena Amidu, 25; Yaw Gyan Richard, 26; Ibrahim Majeed, 20; Alidu Salifu 25; Kojo Kanda, 27.
The names of others were given only as Osumanu, 26; Zakaria, 25; Abu, 24; and Hakeem, 25.
The identities of the additional eight are yet to be established but the police said the family members had confirmed to them that they had lost their relatives.
The police received the report about 10:35p.m. and indicated that a rescue team was working to save the possible survivors of the tragedy.
The pit, believed to be about 80 metres deep, was said to have collapsed after a downpour when the illegal miners were returning to take their supper.
According to a source close to the survivors, they were mining 80 metres deep in the pit but they decided to come out to find food to eat.
While coming out, they heard some noise and realised that two pits had caved in, trapping those who were deep in the pit.
Fortunately for them, the source said, because some of the illegal miners were close to the surface of the pit, they managed to escape the tragedy.
The collapse of the mining pit is one of the major disasters that have occurred since the Media Coalition Against Galamsey joined the fight against illegal mining this year.
On Friday, June 30 this year, the coalition and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) organised a town hall meeting at Manso Nkwanta in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region to draw attention to the menace of illegal mining.
The coalition and its partners decided to fight illegal mining not only because of its effects on the environment and water bodies but also the risk that the galamsey operators were exposed to.
These include health hazards associated with their exposure to mercury and the dangers of loss of lives associated with collapsed illegal pits.