Residents of Tawor District, Grand Cape Mount County in western Liberia are mourning right now after a mudslide in a mining site that buried at least 50 persons. However, some reports put the total casualties at more than 60.
Reports from the county monitored on Truth FM and OK FM respectively in Monrovia indicate the victims are illegal gold and diamond miners. The site is said to be operated by Chinese.The incident reportedly occurred 18:00 hour GMT on Monday, May 4th specifically in the towns of Masaakpaoh and Bangoma, Tewor District, Grand Cape Mount County.
This comes at a time when Liberia is in a fight against the new coronavirus that has registered 166 confirmed cases, including 18 deaths and 53 people recovering from quarantine centers. The people of Grand Cape Mount, predominantly Muslims, observed prayers yesterday in observance of Holy Ramadan, as they reportedly prepared to bury some of the bodies recovered in mass grave, while scores of bodies are still being counted from the rubbles.
This is the second time such incident had occurred in that part of the country. The first was in 1982 during the regime of slain President Samuel Doe when landslide killed about 55 residents in No-Way Camp, another mining community in Grand Cape Mount.
According to reports, the two towns had experienced an unusual influx of young people from other parts of the county and adjacent towns along the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border to carry out illegal mining.
In recent days residents and citizens of Tawor District have complained about a Chinese mining company allegedly engaged in illegal mining in their district.Robertsports City Mayor, Edwin Koha, who rushed on the scene, according to report, said the entire county is once more in mourning and called on the Government of Liberia to quickly move to provide food and shelter for hundreds of others made homeless due to the violent landslide.
Early Tuesday, officers of the Liberia National Police along with a team from the Ministry Of Internal Affairs and the National Disaster Management, including the Liberia National Red Cross and the Grand Cape Mount County Health Team, went on the scene and are working with local youths in searching for more bodies from the wreckage.
On October 06, 1982, local hospital morgue in the county was parked with unidentified corpses, as injured people crowded company hospital beds and waiting rooms, pending treatment.
Family members and rescue workers braved the pungent scent of the hospital grounds to rush in more wounded persons, to console and care for seriously wounded family members or simply to identify corpses.
The management of a mining company at the time NIOC, under whose watch the landslide occurred, seemed ill-prepared to handle the effects of the landslide as rescue workers from Monrovia and other parts of Liberia were called in to help with the recovery efforts. Some of the wounded persons were evacuated to hospitals in Monrovia and nearby counties for treatment.
The Liberian government is yet to officially comment on the incident and provide actual number of causalities of the landslide, but deputy presidential press secretary Smith Toby told OK FM in Monrovia Tuesday that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National disaster Management are on the ground to assess the situation.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor –Editing by Jonathan Browne