A desert gold mine collapse has killed more than 60 people in Sudan’s Darfur region on Monday.
It is still unknown exactly how many people may be missing after the collapse in Jebel Amir district, more than 200 kilometres northwest of the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher.
Local commissioner Haroun al-Hassan said rescue efforts were ongoing at the unofficial 40 metre-deep mine, the ABC reported.
“The number of people who died is more than 60,” Hassan said.
“I cannot give exact figures because no one got precise numbers of how many people were going inside the tunnel.”
Details of the accident emerged only on Thursday and rescuers were using hand tools to reach the victims. Hassan did not give details on whether anyone was still alive.
"We cannot use machines because if they came near, the ground will collapse," he said.
"People are using traditional tools and because of this, the rescue is very slow."
One miner who saw the collapse said it started on Monday evening but much of the collapse took place on Tuesday.
He, wishing to remain anonymous, said it would be hard to know how many men were buried.
“Nobody takes the names of those who go inside,” he said.
“Only their colleagues or their relatives know who they are.”
One resident of El Sireaf, the main town in the nearby region, said he went to the accident site.
“The problem is that those small mines are so close together and if one of them falls it will affect the others,” he said.
“That is what happened in this mine. All the neighbouring mines collapsed.”
Sudan is attempting to increase exports of gold and other non-petroleum products after the division of South Sudan two years ago deprived Khartoum of three-quarters of its crude oil production.
Inflation has skyrocketed above 40 per cent and the currency has dipped in value as Sudan lost most of its international payments capability and half its fiscal revenue.
Sudan’s mining minister Kamal Abdel Latif said traditional land-based mining produced 41 tonnes of gold amounting to $2.5 billion to November last year.
The country is aiming for another 50 tonnes this year.