Over 40 Afghans killed after illegal makeshift gold mine collapses

The quest to chance upon large amounts of one of the world’s most precious and rarest metals, led dozens of villagers in northern Afghanistan to their tragic demise.

Over 40 villagers in northeastern Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province died after an illegal tunnel they dug into the ground, collapsed suddenly on Sunday.

The incident, which occurred in Kohestan district of the province, crushed the local villagers who had been searching for gold deep inside the 60m (220ft) deep makeshift shaft they dug in a river bed, reports afghanistannews.net.

Badakhshan’s Provincial officials confirmed the mine collapse on Sunday and said that all the 40 people killed in the tragedy were miners.

In a statement issued to the local media, a spokesman for the provincial governor, Nek Mohammad Nazari said that all the miners were local villagers.

He said that the miners died after the tunnel they were digging suddenly caved in.

Nazari also noted, ‘Poor villagers during winters try to compensate their earnings by pursuing illegal mining. They dig tunnels to enter the mines.’

He added that ten more miners were injured in the incident.

In a separate statement, the Afghan parliament member Fawzia Koofi said that the miners were killed as they searched for gold in the Kohestan district.

He told reporters that an initial investigation into the incident had revealed that the villagers had been using an excavator at the site, which is believed to have caused the mine to collapse.

Immediately after the incident, local reports quoted Sanaullah Rohani, a police spokesman for Badakhshan province as saying that the mine collapsed when the area had been experiencing heavy snowfall.

Initially Rohani said that a landslide was believed to have caused the accident.

He also told reporters that nearly 50 illegal miners were present inside the mine when the incident occurred.