14 miners die in Rwamagana quarry

Mining activities at the Ntunga site have been suspended pending a thorough investigation into the accident. Jean de Dieu Nsabimana

Fourteen people were confirmed dead Monday at a mining quarry in Ntunga Cell, Mwulire Sector in Rwamagana District.

The incident occurred at around 08:35 AM at the Ntunga mining site, after the ground suddenly gave way, trapping in miners who were in the shaft.

All bodies of the victims had been recovered by Monday afternoon, according to authorities.

The miners worked for KTN Support Mining Limited, a contractor of the UK-based mining firm Piran Mining.

John Ntanyungura was part of the team but was lucky to escape death by whiskers, saying that the ground gave way a few metres from where he stood, separating him and his colleagues.

The ground showed cracks briefly before it collapsed, he said.

"When I noticed the crack, I stepped forward to see what just happened, others were right behind me. I always walked ahead of them.

When I made about two steps forward, the whole ground came down on us," he narrated.

He escaped with injuries on one of his legs.

Radjab Mbonyumuvunyi, the mayor of Rwamagana District said that despite the fact that the company fulfilled requirements of doing this business, there are some accidents that cannot be prevented. 

"We have already informed families of the victims, and some of their loved ones have already arrived," he said from the mining site.

Eleven victims have been identified to be from Rwamagana District, while the other three are from the districts of Kamonyi Burera and Gakenke, according to the mayor.

Some of the bodies have been taken to Rwamagana Hospital mortuary while others were transferred to Kigali hospitals.

The funeral arrangements will be agreed upon between the bereaved families, the mining contractor and government.

According to Tristan Minyati, the legal representative of Piran Rwanda, the company is ensured through UAP Insurance, which will provide appropriate support to the families during this difficult time.

Also, in collaboration with relevant authorities, Piran pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstance surrounding this incident with view to prevent a re-occurrence in future, he said.

Operations will not resume at the Ntunga open-cast area prior to a full investigation of this incident, according to the mining company.

This, according to Minyati, is the first accident of the magnitude at any of their concessions during the company’s five-year operation in Rwanda.

In April last year, four miners were trapped in the same concession, but they were all freed alive after spending three days inside.

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