OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – At least 59 were killed, and more than 100 were injured in a strong explosion at a gold mining site located in the Southwest, the country’s broadcaster and witnesses reported.
“Gold Mining Site Blast Reportedly Kills 59 in Burkina Faso A strong explosion near a gold mining site in southwestern Burkina Faso killed 59 people”, the country’s media Tweeted.
Soon after the blast in the Gbomblora village, regional authorities responded to the incident and provided a provisional death toll, RTB reported.
The blast likely happened due to some chemical stockpiles used in gold extraction and industrial processes, according to the investigation report.
“I saw bodies everywhere. It was horrible,” said forest ranger Sansan Kambou who was at the location when the blast occurred, told The Associated Press.
The first strong explosion occurred nearly 2:00 in the afternoon, followed by more explosions as workers and nearby residents ran for their lives.
Burkina Faso is Africa’s rapid-growing gold miner and also the fifth biggest on the continent. It comprises a big chunk of the country’s export.
In 2019, the company reportedly employed a 1.5 million population and was worth around $2 billion.
Gbomblora has begun growing in recent years from a developing gold mine and smuggles gold into countries like Ghana, Niger, Benin, and Togo, reported Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.
Allegedly in 2016, jihadis linked to Islamic states and Al-Qaida typically used these small mines for staging attacks in the country. They reportedly raised funds by taxing gold miners and used the site for seeking refuge and recruiting fighters.
According to the mining experts, such small scales mines are more dangerous as they have fewer regulations and accountability than the industrial ones.
“The limited regulation of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector contributes to increased risks that can be very dangerous, including the use of explosives which are often smuggled into the country and used illegally,” said Global Initiative’s senior analyst Marcena Hunter.