CONAKRY - At least 12 illegal miners have been killed and several are missing after a landslide at a goldmine in northeastern Guinea, a security source and locals said on Thursday.
The collapse happened Tuesday night in a mine owned by the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, a subsidiary of the South African company De Beers, near the city of Siguiri, a member of the Guinean security forces told AFP.
"Twelve bodies have been removed since Wednesday morning from underground shafts," he said, adding that 11 people had been injured and an "unknown number were trapped in the shafts", where illegal miners were operating.
Witnesses told AFP that emergency workers were continuing to search for survivors and bodies on Thursday.
"We might never know the number of people buried in the shafts that are 20 to 25 metres (65 to 80 feet) deep because the search operation is being carried out by hand, with shovels and picks," a local journalist said.
It is the fifth such disaster in a fortnight in the Siguiri area, with the previous landslides killing four people, including three women, according to locals.
"There was an awareness campaign and warnings were put out repeatedly to prevent illegal miners going down into the shafts," said the security source.
Guinea sits atop huge deposits of gold, bauxite and diamond but the majority of its people live in poverty.