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95 people still missing after Darfur mine pit collapse

About 95 people are still missing three days after the collapse of a gold mine pit in North Darfur. Sources say rescue workers have not yet reached the Jebel ‘Amer mine, which the local commissioner attributes to the poor security situation in the region.

Jebel ‘Amer, in Al Sareif Beni Hussein locality, was the source of a deadly conflict between the Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes in January who fought over its control. Over 100,000 people were displaced as a result, the UN says.

Local sources claim the collapsed well is 60 meters-deep and it branches out in 22 ramifications on the bottom. They said that 66 gold miners had registered their names before going down the excavation pit on Monday, while another 20 went down the pit without enlisting themselves.  

Witnesses said that the pit collapsed on its bottom trapping the workers inside. However, they said, 10 miners were sent down the pit to examine the situation and they also were trapped. Only one of them has managed to come back out and he claimed hearing voices and knockings down the well.

For his part, Al Sareif Beni Hussein commissioner Haroun Hussein Jame told Radio Dabanga that popular search efforts continue to find the trapped miners, despite it being a "difficult" operation. He explained that the hollow grounds around Jebel ‘Amer do not allow the use of heavy machinery as it could lead to a further collapse of excavation pits.

Jame maintains the well is 40 meters-deep and acknowledged it has “many ramifications” on the bottom. He noted that it is not possible to calculate casualties' toll because there are no specific lists to register who goes down and all figures are just estimations.

Related: North Darfur gold mine pit collapses allegedly killing dozens (30 April 2013)

Reporting by Radio Dabanga