Troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Police Support Unit (PSU) of the Liberia National Police are heavily deployed in the Kartee Gold Mines in Gbanipea, District Six, Nimba County where nearly 45 illicit miners died in mudslides a week ago.
The illicit miners got trapped beneath the earth on February 9th as a result of underground mining when the mudslides forcibly buried them.
Most of the victims including men and teenage boys died from dehydration as a result of severe heat.Most of the bodies remain buried in the mudslides, as very few survivors were rescued last week and taken to hospitals.
Some 65 illicit miners have been arrested and sent to Tappita, 10 kilometers from the town, which has been a center of attraction for its rich gold deposits.Most of the suspects refused to adhere to government’s pronouncement that the mine has been closed.
Reports say the security forces will remain deployed in the town and the mining area until calm is restored completely.
President George Manneh Weah declared Monday, February 18, a Day of National Mourning observed here as a working holiday.
The Executive Mansion said the President also declared the affected area a “National Disaster Zone”, ordering the national security apparatuses to isolate the area, provide security and prevent illicit mining.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Varney Sirleaf, is heading technical committee ordered by President Weah to work with the National Disaster Management Agency to move as quickly as possible to the affected area, conduct intensive search for possible survivors and render appropriate assistance to affected families and communities.
The President called on national and international organizations and development partners, mainly the United Nation, ECOWAS, European Union, United States, China and other friendly nations for expertise in disaster management to join the technical team set up to bring needed relief to individuals and families affected by the disaster.
President described the mudslide as “totally a depressing for our country at a time my Government is endeavoring to create an enabling environment for our people to improve their lives”.
The government has come under criticism here for its handling of the situation, sending in state security and disaster management team nearly one week after.
By Thomas Domah/Nimba –Editing by Jonathan Browne