At least 30 people have been killed after a landslide destroyed an illegal gold mine in Afghanistan’s northern Badakhshan province.
Sanaullah Rohani, a provincial police spokesman, said a further seven people were injured while working in a tunnel in Kohistan district on Sunday. Officials said the victims were villagers who were mining for gold in the makeshift tunnel when a landslide and flash flood engulfed a nearby riverbed.
“Poor villagers during winters try to compensate their earnings by pursuing illegal mining,” Nek Mohammad Nazari, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said. “They dig tunnels to enter the mines.” He added that casualty numbers could rise as about 50 miners were present in the tunnel when it caved in. Two rescue teams were deployed to help the injured amid heavy snowfall. The police department initially said 20 people had been injured but later revised the figure to seven.
Landslides are frequent in the northern mountainous provinces of Afghanistan. Last year the Afghan government signed two contracts for the exploration of copper and gold deposits in the northern provinces, in an attempt to prevent illegal mining and reduce its dependence on foreign aid by mining its own natural resources