12 die from toxic blast inhalation

BY: By Zadok K. Gyesi, ACCRA

Twelve people have died after suffocating in a mining tunnel in the Gbane community in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region.

The miners are said to have died from inhaling toxic gases from a blast while underground in a mining tunnel close to another mining concession serviced by a Chinese company called Shaanxi.

Several others are also on admission at the Bolgantaga Regional hospital and Afrikids hospital receiving treatment for the effect of suffocation.

The incident is said to have occurred on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, at about 10pm.

The victims are reported to have died between 1am and 2am.

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Police account
The Upper East Regional Staff Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mr Adam Ahmed Mahama who confirmed the incident to Graphic Online, said the incident occurred after Shaanxi Mining Company had blasted some rocks in a tunnel which intersects parts of the tunnel in which the victims were working.

According to him, Shaanxi Mining Company did their blasting at about 10 pm Tuesday, January 22, adding that according to the company, before they did their blasting, they went to check the tunnel if there was someone in it.

He said during the recce, they found some of the victims then working in the tunnel so they (staff of Shanxii) sacked them and “even arrested some.”

DSP Mahama said after that the blasting was done, adding that “according to them (Shaanxi), they do their blasting every evening.”

He told Graphic Online that later after the blasting had been done, some staff of the company received distress calls at about 12am that someone had collapsed around their area.
He added that some staff of the company went there to check on the said person and also offered their ambulance to send the victim to the hospital.

According to DSP Mahama, there were many miners in the tunnel when the incident occurred, stressing that “They were many in the pit.”

He added that “when it happened, they (the victims) tried to evacuate” from the tunnel but inhaled the poisonous gases from the blast since the tunnel intersects each other underground.

“When the police examined the bodies, they were not mutilated,” he said, noting that all the deceased have been sent to the Bolgatanga Regional hospital for preservation and autopsy, while survivors were receiving treatment at the same facility.

A citizen of the community, Kenneth Singah, who also spoke with the Graphic Online said “the guys have created their own tunnel which intersects that of Shaanxi underground so they (Shaanxi) should have informed them before the blasting.”

According to him, this is not the first time people have died underground after inhaling toxic gases from mine blast from the Shaanxi company.
“There are a lot of small scale miners around the area. People have been dying there regularly,” Mr Singah said.