Gold mine collapse kills 17 people

At least 17 miners have been killed when an abandoned gold mine collapsed this week in central Ghana.

Local official Peter Kofi Owusu-Ashia told The Associated Press on Tuesday that 20 other workers had been rescued.

It has been reported the people were working illegally in the disused mine at the time and had been previously told to leave by the operator.

Not long after the operator told the illegal miners to leave the site "the operator got information that the mine caved in and covered the people," the area police commander William Out said.

"The number of those trapped were 22," said Owusu-Ashia.

Sixteen people were pronounced dead on site, and six others were rushed to hospital for treatment.

"One later died" Owusu-Ashia said.

"We have stopped rescue operations for now."

He said the illegal miners were working with tools that they found discarded at the site.

Ghana is one of the world’s top gold exporters, but the West African nation’s gold mining sector has been marred by similar incidents to this, Seven News reports.

In 2010 heavy rains in the south of the country caused the clandestine mine to cave in killing 32 people.

There was also another mining accident in 2009 where 18 people, including 14 women, were killed in one of the country’s mines.

A similar number died in a cave-in in April 2007 at a mine west of the capital Accra.

Following the latest accident it has been reported that Central Regional Minister Samuel Sarpong has vowed to clamp down on illegal mining in the country.

"They know what they are doing is wrong, and nobody supervises them and for that matter, they do it haphazardly, and then get away with it," the independent radio station Joy FM quoted him as saying.

"We will make sure that we disband illegal mining in the Central region," he said.

The cause of the accident is not immediately clear and local police are continuing their investigations.

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