Top: A townsman looks at the body of Prince Hali, a 20-something-year-old artisanal mineworker who drowned in a mining pit in Belle Yalla over the weekend. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue
By Esau J. Farr and Charles Gbayor
BELLE YALLA – A man believed to be in his 20s has drowned in a huge mining water in Gbarpolu County.
Prince Hali, an artisanal mineworker, drowned in a mining pit in Belle Yalla over the weekend. A 15-townsman jury found no foul play in Hali’s death.
“We are told that he went to wash himself and drowned,” Vincent Abban, Gbarpolu County’s chief investigator, told The DayLight. “From what I have seen, there was no foul play and the body is intact.”
Eyewitnesses said Hali and other miners had gone to bathe in the mine pit water late afternoon last Friday. The other miners watched in horror as their colleague disappeared into the water.
“We saw the other man running coming and told us that since [Hali] fell into the water he hadn’t been seen,” said Samuel Cole, a friend of Hali.
A search party comprising the police, townsmen and members of Belle Yalla’s community watch team took a day to find Hali’s body. Volunteers had to pump out water from the pit to find his body at the bottom of the pit water.
One of Hali’s relatives wept a river as the search party discovered her brother’s corpse and was helped away from the scene. “I came to visit you and this is how you welcome me,” the woman could be heard crying as she was led away.
The news spread grief throughout Belle Yalla, a township infamous for hosting a prison that held political prisoners up to 1990.
The mining pit in which he drowned was left behind by the Randell and Oretha Doe Multipurpose Company, a firm operating in that region. The company had diverted the Manneh Creek, the major source of water for Belle Yalla’s 3,600 people, for a medium-scale mine.
The company’s operations have changed the way of life here, with water scarce most of the year, Peter Flomo, the commissioner of the township. As a result, people have turned to the pit to wash and bath, he added.
Randell Doe, an executive of the company, did not immediately respond to queries. The DayLight will update this story once he does.
Pallbearers carried Hali’s body high on a platform to his grave following a brief funeral ritual. He was buried Saturday, just a stone’s throw from the ill-fated mine pit by the local tradition.
Funding for this story was provided by the United States Embassy in Monrovia. The DayLight maintained editorial independence over the story’s content.