Liberia: Army, PSU Deployed at Scene of Mining Collapse; 65 Reportedly Arrested
Franklin Doloquee/ County Correspondent
Tappita, Lower Nimba – The Liberian government is intensifying efforts to rescue several persons still unaccounted for in the Goldmine collapse in Nimba County.
An Incident Command Post has been set up by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) in the town of Gbanipea to the scene of the disaster which is 45 minutes’ walk away from Gbanipea.
At least sixty-five (65) illegal gold miners have been arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police, authorities said Monday.
A FrontPageAfrica reporter in the area says state security have also been deployed at the gold mine following the death of 44 gold boys at the mining area.
The 65 illicit gold miners, mostly men and a few women were booked by the state security after being informed by the government that no one should be seem at the mining place where the bodies of more
than forty of their friends are still buried.
Operation Rescue Alive or Recovered Dead
The NDMA, in a statement Monday confirmed that government security forces comprising the Liberia National Police (LNP), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have taken siege of the illegal goldmines operated by illegal miners where several persons are still unaccounted for in a loose soil collapse.
Residents of the mines have been evacuated to safe havens where they are being catered to until operations “Rescue Alive or Recovered Dead”. The Liberia National red Cross Society (LNRCS) has begun contact tracing so as to establish the exact information of people missing in the loose soil collapse.
The Ministry of health (MOH), National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), WASH Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have begun testing water sources for possible water pollution, assessing livelihoods to ensure the safety of the community and conducting surveillance of a possible outbreak of either air or water borne diseases.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Traditional Council of Liberia have been engaging the chiefs and elders to ensure the operations are smoothly carried out without breaking our cultural norms.
Since government described the area as national disaster zone and ordered the closure of the mining area, many of those involved are still running afoul of the law and continue to be involved in mining activities by using the country devil as a distraction.
The country devil has been at the gold mining area for the past two weeks preventing authorities from deploying security personnel in the area.
Devil Obstructing Search Operation
At the weekend, Chief Zanzan Kanwor, the head for the tradition council in Liberia, visited the area and prevailed on the country devil to leave the mining area and allow the authorities to do their job.
FrontPageAfrica correspondent says although there is huge presence of security personnel in the area, bodies are yet to be removed from the soil which has cause the area to spell.
Prince Jackson, who described himself as the head for the operation to remove bodies from the scene, narrated to FrontPageAfrica that when the accident occur he, along with five men rushed to the mine and managed to rescue five miners but one of them passed out.
Our correspondent said most of the deceased came from Bong, Lofa Grand Bassa Counties including the South-east while some came from district number 4,5,6 7,8,9 in Nimba County. Several women who came from Bong county to sell at the gold mine were seem sleeping outside, lacking food and unable to find their back home due to lack of money.
Some of the women who were arrested narrated that they have gone to sell their cold water which cause 20.00 LD per beg when they were arrested. Anita Peter, Oretha Johnson and Esther Dahn told our
correspondent that they have no idea of gold mining but rather they were simply trying to make a living by selling water to miners.
Meanwhile, the complication of the mines is impeding speedy rescue efforts which now has brought the Technical Steering Committee set up by the President to provide supervision of the operations to its “Second Course of Actions” in the “Emergency Response Plan”, that is, by “moving in earth-moving equipment that will open a road from the main highway to the mining site which is an inaccessible site. The purpose for this is to allow an excavator machine to move into the mines so as to speed up the rescue work”.
President Weah has declared Monday a “National Day of Mourning” in memory of those who lost their lives in the loose soil collapse.