Siaya tragedy: Three more miners pulled out alive after 6 days

Abimbo gold mine

Local artisans help in rescue operations at Abimbo gold mine, Bondo Sub County on December 06, 2021. Three miners have been rescued as one worker is still trapped.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Ojina | Nation Media Group

Three more miners have been rescued from the Abimbo gold mine accident in Bondo, Siaya County, six days after they were trapped.

The search continues for the remaining miner on the seventh day of rescue efforts today.

The three miners were rescued at 2am and rushed to Bondo Sub-County Hospital for medical attention, Bondo Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani confirmed on Wednesday morning. This brings to eight, the number of miners rescued alive. One miner was retrieved dead on Saturday.

This brings to eight, the number of miners rescued alive. One miner was retrieved dead on Saturday.

It has been difficult to pass the miners food and water, raising fears that they may be starved and dehydrated. Rescuers were communicating with the trapped men through pipes that went down the shafts.

“We have been trying to use the hole to drop bottled water with glucose to keep them going," said Mr Nobert Aketch, the official spokesman of the artisanal miners.

Families have been receiving updates on their loved ones every two hours since the incident happened on Thursday.

On the sixth day of rescue efforts on Tuesday, frustration had set in, with families of the four miners who had been trapped at the gold shaft for six days faulting the snail pace of rescue efforts.

The delay to rescue the miners who were trapped on Thursday morning has put the government on the spot over the slow disaster response, as it emerged that rescuers had encountered difficulties due to the weak walls of the mines and loose soil which keeps collapsing.

At the collapsed site, two excavators had since stopped scooping soil, paving way for dozens of miners to manually try and secure their trapped colleagues.

They have had to scoop the soil with a lot of caution.

On Monday evening, the rescue operation was interrupted after the walls of the quarry collapsed injuring three members of the team.

The collapsed wall blocked the pathway once again forcing the rescue team to start operations afresh, said Mr Karani.

Desperate relations of the four artisanal miners endured long hours’ day and night camping at the site, holding onto hope that they were still alive.

The only hope of their families has been that the rescuers are still able to communicate with them, meaning they are still alive.

The miners have been surviving on oxygen that is pumped to them using a compressor.

Five miners were rescued alive between Thursday and Sunday while one was retrieved dead on Saturday.

Mr Karani said rescue efforts have taken longer due to the delicate ground at the site where the artisanal miners are trapped.

"The excavation needs to be done with a lot of keenness, failure to which we might cause more harm. The lumps of soils are too soft [for rescuers] to use excavators," he said.

On Monday, Mr George Ayieko, the families’ spokesman, said the national government ought to have sent experts from the department of mining to help in rescue of the trapped gold diggers.

"We have professionals in the government who are trained to handle such situations. We have NYS and the Army who should have been brought in to save the trapped miners," said Mr Ayieko.

"I believe that if the government brought in the experts, things would be different. But they are so reluctant, we don't know why,” Mr Ayieko said.

Mr Aketch told the Nation the miners were trapped in two shafts. Rescuers have been communicating with them using a long pipe.

"Three people trapped in one shaft are in constant communication with us, the fourth one is in another shaft is making sounds," said the miners’ spokesman.

He said the gold diggers were trapped almost 20 feet from the entrance of the mining chambers.

"The difference between where they are trapped and the entrance is about 20 feet. That's how we can get the vibrations of the sound," he said.

One of the survivors of the tragedy revealed he had sounded the alarm about a tremor while inside the shaft before the Thursday incident, but was dismissed by his supervisor as inexperienced.