Three buried alive in mining pit
The neighbouring East Coast Demerara communities of Ann’s Grove and Two Friends were plunged into shock and deep mourning, following the news that three of their villagers perished in a mining pit at Aranka in the Cuyuni area, yesterday.
Twenty-five year-old Deonarine Singh called ‘Chubby ‘of Ann’s Grove and cousins Elson Singh called ‘Papa Johnny’, 47 and Devon Barry, 22, both of Two Friends, are all dead, after the walls of the pit they were working in caved-in burying them alive, early yesterday morning.
It took desperate colleagues, aided by an excavator, several minutes to dig them out from tons of sand and gravel, but by then it was too late.
Kaieteur News was informed that Elson Singh was the first to be dug out from the rubble, and then rescuers eventually found the bodies of Barry and Deonarine Singh.
One other miner, whose name has not yet been ascertained, reportedly received injuries.
The bodies of the three dead miners as well as the injured were brought to the city by aircraft late yesterday afternoon.
News of the tragedy was relayed to their relatives and within minutes, word spread throughout the community, which is considered the home of gold miners, with almost every household boasting someone who has had experiences in Guyana’s interior.
At Devon Barry’s home, his mother was too distraught to speak when Kaieteur News arrived there.
However, his sister Kesia revealed that he had left for the interior about a month ago, but she could not say much of what really transpired.
“We just get the news this morning. We don’t know anything as yet,” Kesia Barry said.
A few hundred yards further down the same road, relatives had gathered at the home of Deonarine Singh to console his aunt, Sunita Stewart, who had nurtured him from a baby.
The woman had to be restrained as her emotions got the better of her.
This newspaper was told that Singh, who has been working as a miner in the interior for the past seven years, had left his home three months ago and was scheduled to return soon.
Singh’s cousin, Raymond Small, told this newspaper that the family received word yesterday that he was working in a pit when it caved-in.
Elson Singh, who has been a gold miner for most of his adult life, was last seen by his mother and other relatives in August when he left for the interior. His cousin, Erika Soso , told Kaieteur News that she was at work yesterday when she received a telephone call informing her that Singh had been killed in a mining pit tragedy.
“My sister, she’s in the bush and she called to say that he was trapped in the pit,” Soso stated.
His mother, Vilma Singh, recalled that her son had called her on Monday to tell her that he was alive and well.
“He tell me that he gun send something for his father birthday which is next month, and he gone send something for me. He asked me for his girlfriend number and I gave it to him,” Vilma Singh recalled.
She explained that yesterday, around midday, her granddaughter called her with the tragic news.
The woman desperately tried to hold back tears as she related that Elson Singh was her eldest son.
This newspaper was informed that only last year Singh had survived a similar encounter, when another pit in which he was working caved-in.
On that occasion he suffered fractures to some of his limbs.
The two East Coast Demerara communities have had to grapple with tragic news from the interior on several occasions.
A little over a year ago they mourned the deaths of Daniel Higgins Sr., 48, and his son Daniel Jr., who were murdered by armed bandits who had attempted to rob their camp in the Konawaruk/Whitewater area.
The father was shot at least two times while his 22-year-old son was severely chopped.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is saddened at the loss of lives and is appealing to all miners and operators within the sector to comply with Occupational Health and Safety standards.
The Ministry, through its regulatory agency – the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission has launched an investigation of a report indicating that a mining pit has collapsed in the Aranka area, North West Mining District # 1, where a number of persons reportedly lost their lives.
The Ministry had also received additional complaints about issues relating to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) which have led to serious injury and in some instances, fatalities in the mining camps.
As such the Ministry has invited the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Chief Labour Officer of the Ministry of Labour to be part of task force to investigate this incident and to review OHS issues within the mining sector, to provide a safe working environment for miners and operators within the sector.
The GGMC has been mandated to engage all stakeholders in addressing this very critical matter.