KABUL: At least 30 workers were killed when a gold mine collapsed in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province on Sunday, officials said.
The workers were searching for gold in a riverbed when a tunnel caved in, they said.
“In the tragic incident, 30-36 people have been reportedly killed,” Mariam Koofi, a lawmaker from the area told Arab News.
The mining operations were carried out illegally and without following the standard safety operation, she said. Badakhshan is a remote, mountainous province in northeast Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.
The impoverished region is prone to landslides, particularly in the colder months when heavy snow blankets the province.
Illegal mining is common in resource-rich Afghanistan, with the Taliban relying on the sector for much of its revenue.
Most of the country’s minerals remain untapped as the raging conflict and lack of regulation deter international miners from exploiting the huge reserves.
Koofi said the Taliban also levy tax on miners.
Najib Danesh, an Interior Ministry spokesman in Kabul, confirmed the incident but gave no further details.
An official at Badakhshan governor’s office feared the death toll might rise. He did not have any information about any rescue operation.
This is not the first mining accident in the war-torn country.
“The mining was done following the standard procedures but the activities were carried out illegally by local influential people,” Mohammad Zekriya, a lawmaker from the province told Arab News.
He confirmed the death toll at 30. Zekriya said no rescue team could make to the area, which most beyond the government’s control and under the Taliban who levy taxes on miners.