Police and residents are searching for four people who were trapped in a prospective diamond mine in Musanze District.
The incident occurred on Saturday at a mine in Cyabagarura cell, Musanze sector.
Initially, three people had been trapped. Hours later, when the fourth miner entered to check on his colleagues he was also trapped underground, according to Police and local leaders.
Inspector of Police Innocent Gasasira, the Northern Province regional Police spokesperson, confirmed the incident, Monday, adding that rescue efforts were complicated, and they were awaiting support from experts.
The miners, it emerged, had burnt charcoal using petrol to break a rock to create a tunnel and could have suffocated in the process.
“So far, we are waiting for support from Rutongo miners (in Gakenke District) as they are experts in mining with enough equipment, we hope they will help rescue the victims,” Gasasira said.
It was still unclear whether the victims were still alive or dead.
Gasasira cautioned against illegal mining, urging miners to seek permission whenever they are planning to extract minerals in any site.
He also said production at the mine should stop until the exploration process has been completed.
Jean Marie Vianney Ndayisaba, whose relative is trapped underground, said they detected it after the victims failed to return home for lunch.
“We tried entering the tunnel but it was too hard for us to get underground due to thick smoke, we rushed out but, unfortunately, we lost another person, we have no hope that those trapped underground are still alive after all these days,” he said.
Marie Claire Uwamariya, Musanze District vice mayor in charge of social affairs, said the rescue effort was complicated due to the fact that the victims used petrol and charcoal which are releasing heavy plumes of smoke.
She also said that the tunnel is too narrow for rescuers.
“We are doing our best to rescue them, we have oxygen masks from Ruhengeri Hospital and rescuers are using them with other materials to try to rescue the victims, we are yet to know whether they are alive or not,” said Uwamariya.