Disaster struck an illegal gold mining (galamsey) site at Obuasi last Saturday, when a rope being used to transport the miners suddenly snapped, sending them crashing into the underground pit and killing five of them on the spot.
The police had earlier put the casualty at three, but some of the illegal miners who were witnesses to the incident said five of their colleagues perished in the incident. The police confirmed the incident to the Daily Graphic and expressed concern that the galamsey operators were not forthcoming with the true picture about the actual number of casualties.
The Obuasi Divisional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Kofi Dwumfour Berchie, briefed the Daily Graphic about the story, but indicated that so far only three of the victims had been confirmed dead.
He said, there a gang of about 28 prospecting for gold in the AngloGold concessions at Anyinam at Obuasi.According to Mr Berchie, the deceased, whose bodies had been retrieved from the pit, were identified only as Burger, 25; Abeiku, 20, and Ernest, 19.He said the bodies had been deposited at the Heaven Gate mortuary – a private mortuary at Obuasi – for autopsy.
A galamsey operator who had earlier spoken to the Daily Graphic, however, revealed that “under such circumstances, we do not tell the police the real number of casualties. This is to ensure that some of the dead bodies remain underground because we have the belief that under such situations, the mine becomes much richer, making it possible for us to mine for more gold anytime we go underground”.
The incident occurred around 3 p.m. on Saturday, but it was not until 4 p.m. that news about the disaster went round, creating panic and anxiety in the Obuasi Municipality, especially for those whose family members, friends and loved ones engage in galamsey operations in the Anyinam concessions of AngloGold.