Rescuers continued the search today for survivors after a collapse in a gold mine in southern Sudan at the weekend, with at least 32 people known to have died.
Local media reported that several shafts collapsed at the Darsaya mine, 435 miles south of the capital Khartoum, on Sunday evening. Eight people were treated at a local hospital, with 32 bodies recovered so far. All were believed to be working at a depth of about 20 metres (65ft) when the collapse occurred.
Images were posed on Facebook showing villagers gathering at the site, with two dredgers being used in the search for possible survivors. Other images showed people preparing traditional graves.
The mine had been abandoned by the state-owned Sudanese Mineral Resources Limited Company. It said local miners had returned to work it after guards posted at the site left the area.
Unregulated mining is common in the area and safety standards are notoriously lax, with frequent collapses.
Sudan is the second-largest gold miner in Africa, producing 36.6 tonnes in 2020, according to government figures. Gold is Sudan’s most valuable export commodity but much of the output is traded outside official channels, often in Dubai.
A Sunday Times investigation last year found that illegal African gold that is traded in Dubai often ends up in Britain. Most high street banks and jewellers adhere to strict codes of conduct designed to prevent the purchase of gold of dubious origon, but there are flaws in the system.
Sudan’s transitional government has been cracking down on gold smuggling to generate more foreign currency and boost the country’s struggling economy. The central bank had long had a monopoly on exports but last year it opened the trade to private investors, allowing them to handle exports and taking the business out of state hands.
More than 14 million people, a third of Sudan’s population, will need humanitarian aid next year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the highest level for a decade.