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Police on Week-Long Struggle to Retrieve Trapped Miners

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Norbert Ochom, the Wamala Regional Police Spokesperson notes that officers from the Police Fire and Rescue team have been working round the clock to retrieve the bodies of the miners in vain. “The nature of the pit has failed the task. It is suspected that the pit is over 100 feet deep or more. Officer is still trying but now we have lost hope of getting them alive. Maybe a miracle may happen!” Ochom told Uganda Radio Network on Tuesday.
Police officers struggling to retrieve the two people who are presumed dead

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Police in Kassanda District are still struggling to find two artisanal miners who were trapped in an illegal gold pit in Lujinji D Village in Kitumbi Sub-County ten days ago.   

Nathan Muyingo and another miner only identified as Byamukama sneaked in the restricted mining area, which caved in and buried them underground. 

However, residents fear that there could more other people trapped underground since at times more than ten artisanal miners work in a single pit.   

On Monday last week, police embarked on the process to retrieve the miners with the hope that they could still be alive. However, police have since lost hope of finding the miners alive. 

Norbert Ochom, the Wamala Regional Police Spokesperson notes that officers from the Police Fire and Rescue team have been working round the clock to retrieve the bodies of the miners in vain.

“The nature of the pit has failed the task. It is suspected that the pit is over 100 feet deep or more. Officer is still trying but now we have lost hope of getting them alive. Maybe a miracle may happen!” Ochom told Uganda Radio Network on Tuesday.   

He says police have since mobilized r more equipment and reinforced the team with more experts and soon or later they expect to get a break through. 

Although there are no records, some artisanal miners in Kassanda claim that many of their colleagues have been buried in several gold pits, which have since become their ‘graves’.

Isaac Kavuma, an artisanal miner claims that the miners have a custom of living trapped bodies underground given the fact that it is expensive and risky to retrieve them from a collapsed pit.

“The culture has been that if the mine collapses miners keep quiet. They don’t report anywhere. There were even some myths developed to support the custom with some people arguing that retrieving bodies could bring bad omen to the mining location,” said Kavuma.

However, Frank Jjuuko, another artisanal miner disputes the claims, saying that it is pure propaganda. 

Jjuuko notes that for the seven years he has been in gold mining, he has witnessed several pits collapsing but all the victims dead or alive have always been retrieved.

 

//Cue in: “Ekyo propaganda…

Cue out…byebityo.”//

Ochom says although the process is still challenging, there are no plans to call off the exercise.

In 2017, thousands of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners were evicted from Kassanda gold mines on grounds that their activities were illegal and posed a security threat.  

However, after a series of negotiations, government resolved that AUC Mining (U) Limited, the company which owns the exploration area relinquishes 30 percent of the land to artisanal and small scale miners.

On their return this year, the artisanal and small scale miners were allocated fresh mining locations.