Top: People gather at the scene of a mining accident that claimed the lives of at least 10 men in Cheo Town, River Cess County. Photo credit: S. Alberto Dixon, Sr.

By Aaron Geezay and Alberto Dixon

CHEO TOWN, River Cess – At least 10 miners died after a mining pit they were digging collapsed in a town in River Cess County.

“It has been confirmed that 10 bodies have been recovered, and search and rescue efforts are ongoing,” Minister of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism Jerolinmek Piah told a news conference on Tuesday.

The miners’ bodies were recovered from the pit where they died, pictures and videos of the accident taken by the local media show.

The incident occurred between Cheo Town and Charlie Town along the Yarpah Town and Cestos highway.

The victims, townsmen from the region, were on a gold rush at the open goldmine run by the Development of African Commodities (DEVACO).

Isaiah Ziah 18, an eyewitness, said there were over 10 people in the pit. Ziah had just left the pit when the disaster struck.

“I left and carried my gravel bag before it happened,” he said.

The victims are both from Cheo and Charlie Towns where the gold mine is situated. The bodies of some of the victims have been identified as  Tardeh Chapay, Richard Baryogar, Edwin Dennis,  Alfred Dehdyu and Paul Zah.

Cooper Barney, a liaison officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said he had earlier advised the miners to leave but they did not listen.

“I even told them the Police Support Unit (PSU) was coming but they said ‘When the PSU come, we will stone them [off],’” Barney said. He added that the miners told him to “‘go and lie down.’” The DayLight could not independently verify those claims.

The fatal pit in which at least 10 miners died on Monday. Photo credit: S. Alberto Dixon, Sr.

DEVACO was awarded a medium-scale license in July 2021 and will expire in 2026, official records show. However, the company had abandoned the site for several months, according to locals.

This mining accident has added to several in the last five years. In 2020, two miners were killed in Grand Cape Mount County. That same year, four miners were also killed in a mine collapse in Jacksonville, Bong County. Earlier in 2019, 40 miners were buried alive in Nimba County, the worst mining accident since the No Way Camp disaster in 1982.

The United States Embassy in Monrovia provided funding for this story. The DayLight maintained editorial independence over its content.

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