At least six people were killed and 11 injured this Friday by a landslide that buried a gold mine in the Colombian department of Chocó, in the southwest of the country. The tragedy reflects the precariousness of the conditions working in this type of exploitations of artisan nature, that as in this case could be operating without permission. According to the local authorities of the municipality of San José de Tadó, the landslide occurred in an open-pit extraction area known as the Chato break, near the Mungarrá River.
The persistent rains recorded in recent days caused the avalanche that ended the lives of four women and two men who, said the mayor's office in a statement, "practiced their work of traditional mining, with which they managed to support their families" . This practice is known as BAREQUEO and the Ministry of Mines and Energy describes it as "popular activity of the inhabitants of alluvial terrain". It consists "in the washing of sand by manual means, without the help of machinery or mechanical means, in order to separate and collect precious metals contained in these sands".
To the place were displaced relief teams of the government, Red Cross, firefighters and Civil defense. According to a council member in the newspaper El Tiempo, the municipality was not aware of that mine, although it is estimated that about 200 people in that community work in that sector. Chocó, one of the most war-ridden departments with the FARC, is also one of the most affected by illegal or informal mining.
In 2016, there were 114 mining emergencies and 124 people died, while 28 accidents and 23 deaths were recorded in the first five months of 2017. One of the last occurred in June after an explosion in an illegal coal mine in the municipality of Cucunubá, in the Department of Cundinamarca, near Bogotá. The outbreak caused the death of 13 people and caused the collapse of the site, where two workers were trapped.
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