More than 17 illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ operators, have been confirmed dead in a mining pit at Nsuta, a gold mining community near Bondaye in the Prestea Huni Valley District of the Western Region.
The unfortunate incident, which occurred at about 3:00 a.m., on Sunday, July 2, 2017, has since left many residents of the area wondering what might have been the cause(s).
Speaking in an interview with Today on Monday, July 4, 2017, an illegal gold miner, Mr. Ibrahim Musah, who was also working in the same underground pit, revealed that “17 miners died on the day of that gory incident.”
He blamed the ‘galamsey’ committee at Nsuta for negligence.
According to him, he heard a large sound, and so he quickly warned them, but some of the miners ignored his warning.
“I heard a blast, so I called my boy, but I saw he had been trapped in the cage upstairs,” he narrated.
He recalled that “while I was crying, one boy just fell in front of me, from the top. And when I asked him, he said he left the pit when he heard the blast at the top, and confirmed that one of my boys had been trapped. We managed to pass through the other exit, about 50 of us.”
He pointed out that they wanted to rescue those trapped, but it was difficult because there was too much from the blast.
According to Mr. Musah, when they got to the pit again, they found out that the blast had covered those at the middle portion.
“We held one, tried to pull the dead body, but found that where he was locked in the cage, if we pull him, the soil will crack further and kill us.
“…so we passed through another pit, and began digging from the top of the waste, searching for any survivor. So that was the strategy we adopted,” he explained.
When asked if he was afraid, Mr. Musa said: “In fact, I am a brave man, but for yesterday [last Sunday], only God saved me. I was able to gather 50 people out. The 17 were just unlucky!”
When further asked if he will stop galamsey, he had this to say: “it is the work we do for a living. So even today, if someone comes to me and informs me that there is another area rich in gold, I will go. Some of us are experts in the work.”
To him, the incident was just a bad day for them.
“This is the first time I am working in that pit, someone gave me a contract, so I went with my nine boys. If this pit was for me, this accident wouldn’t have happened,” he indicated.
On safety measures, Mr. Musah said: “those days that we were at 4-bungalows, when we see those who did not fix cages in their pits, we reported them to the committee.