Govt probes Samfya mine accident

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…as legality of mine faces scrutiny

SUN REPORTER writes

Police, working with mines safety officials, have launched investigation in the legality of the manganese mine in Samfya’s Chief Mwewa area where three minors died yesterday after the pit wall collapsed on them.

Both Mines Minister Richard Musukwa and Samfya District Commissioner Mr. Nason Bwalya confirmed the launch of investigations at Raah Mine believed to be owned by a Kitwe-based people.

“We have dispatched a team of inspectors from the Mine Safety Department to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the three juvenile miners,” said  Musukwa who regretted the deaths.

He has warned that if inspectors find that the mine employed children, the license risks being revoked, and other punitive measures imposed.

He said government is worried over reports that both legal and illegal mines being run by foreigners in Luapula maybe posing a danger to local people.

Mr. Bwalya also disclosed that his office has officers dispatched to Shinkole Village to establish the full details on the incident.

 “Our security wings are already on the ground to try and establish whether the mine abrogated mining regulations or not,” stated Mr Bwalya who promised to provide more details on the incident at a later stage.

Luapula police commissioner Elias Chushi announced Sunday that three juveniles, namely Felix Kalembe, 11, of Shinkole village in chief Mwewa (a grade 2 pupil at Chamalawa Primary School), Stainslous Kope, 15, of Chamalawa village and Kelvin Kope, 13, also from Chamalawa Primary School, died while digging for manganese at the mine.

He said Saviour Kope, 11, who was in the company of the deceased, managed to escape unhurt just before the mine collapsed.

He said the bodies of the three were later retrieved by members of the public after a 16 hours search and are in Samfya district hospital mortuary.

In a similar incident which occurred in December 2010, one person died and two were rendered permanently crippled when the wall of the pit they were working collapsed on them at a manganese mine in Mansa District.

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