May 19, 2015 News
Police have recovered the bodies of five of the ten miners who were buried alive when their pit collapsed on them at Mowasi, Potaro around 14:00hrs Sunday.
The dead were identified as Leyland Jones, 38, called ‘Foots’ of Grove, East Bank Demerara, who was the gold operation’s General Manager; his nephew Jason Trotman 21; of Samatta Point, Grove Housing Scheme; Vick and Frank Bernard; Desmond Martins; Raymond August; Brian Bank; Trevon Phillips; Nanmore Kurt; and ‘Michael’.
Seven others were rescued but sustained various degrees of injuries. Some were admitted to the Madhia hospital and others were treated and sent away. Kaieteur News understands that one of the more badly injured men, identified as Colin Moore, has been transferred to a city hospital.
According to reports, 18 workers were in the pit when the northern wall, weakened by rainfall, collapsed.
HEARD MINER SCREAM
Shevon France, the camp cook, who lost her husband, Leyland Jones, and nephew, Jason Trotman, said that she was inside watching television when she heard one of the miners screaming.
On rushing outside, Ms. France said she saw the miner “holding his head and saying that ‘Booker’ (his brother) was dead, and that he think that my husband dead.”
“When I hear that ‘Foots’ (Leyland Jones) dead, I just rush to the spot.” But by then, her husband and nine other men were already buried under tons of mud.
“I just see wall falling on wall; nothing else.” She said that two of the walls collapsed, and that this happened within ten minutes.
“The only thing I could do was kneel and cry and pray that he (Leyland Jones) could come out with only his foot bruck. I am still hoping that he could be alive.” The bodies of Jones and Trotman were not among those found yesterday.
According to Ms. France, one of the seven survivors “had his whole head covered in mud,” but rescuers managed to pull him out alive.
Excavator operators were unable to immediately reach the pit, owing to the muddy conditions of the area. Kaieteur news was told that an excavator is submerged in the pit.
Up to press time, the police were preparing to transport the dead to Georgetown.
The tragedy has already gained the label of one of the worst accidents in recent memories.
According to reports, the owner of the camp has been identified as Imran Khan. Reports indicate that the mining claim, where the accident occurred, belongs to Edward Hopkinson, but there was an existing contract between Hopkinson and Khan.
According to reports, Khan had previously filed an injunction against Hopkinson and the Guyana Geology and Mines, barring them from interfering with or accessing his mining operation.
Khan’s operation, however, is said to have struck a ‘stringer’ or gold vein, which intensified the pace of the excavating to the point that correct procedure was abandoned in pursuit of gold.
Excitement at the proximity of the gold find or consideration of the expenses may have caused the camp to throw caution to the wind.
Kaieteur News was reliably informed that the pattern of digging used was extremely dangerous and could have contributed to the mine caving in.
Police were unsuccessful at first in recovering the 10 bodies presumed to be buried under the mass of slush.
According to the police, some difficulties encumbering the retrieval of the bodies were the depth of the pit, and the fact that the land underfoot was breaking apart due to heavy rainfall.
The source went on to reveal that an excavator cannot be used for the job, owing to the unsteady ground. The police are currently pursuing use of the powerful hoses to clear a pathway to the other trapped bodies.
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) today said that it has dispatched a team to the Mowasi, Konawaruk areas in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) to probe the tragedy.
In a statement, the Association said it is “deeply saddened by this tragic accident and will take all the necessary steps to fully investigate the cause of the tragedy.”
It said that the team left yesterday at 09.00 hrs and comprised President of the GGDMA Patrick Harding, Simona Broomes of the Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMA), Mr. Ramdass of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Mr. Giddings, GGDMA Engineer and Natural Resources Minister Designate, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
The statement said that the team will inspect the area and monitor the retrieval effort that is currently underway. A detailed statement is expected to be released this afternoon when the team returns.
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