As many as 43 illegal miners may have died when part of a copper mine collapsed in southeastern DR Congo, a Congolese official was quoted as saying Friday.
On Thursday, two galleries caved in at a mine in the Kolwezi area operated by Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a subsidiary of the Swiss company Glencore.
Glencore had put the number of fatalities at 19 but noted in a statement that there could be “possible further unconfirmed fatalities.”
“The latest report by the Congolese national police indicates 43 deaths,” said Richard Muyej, governor of the Lualaba province according to the news website Actualite.cd.
Muyej was quoted as saying Friday: “After the burials we will hold a big meeting with leaders of the illegal miners to agree once and for all on the rules.”
The region is rich in copper and cobalt.
Glencore had said KCC had observed a “growing presence” of illegal miners, with on average 2,000 people a day intruding on its operating sites.
Illegal mining is common and frequently deadly in Democratic Republic of Congo, where safety is often poor and risk-taking high.
Figures indicating the scale of the problem are sketchy, given that many mines are illegal and work in remote areas