Rwanda: Hopes Fade Two Weeks After Rescue Efforts in Huye Mine Collapse Began

Two weeks have passed since six people, including three students, got trapped in the tunnels of a mine in Huye District, but no single rescue has been registered so far.

The accident occurred on April 19 in the Kinazi sector, Gahana cell. All six people are said to have been working at the illegal mine which was not even known to the regulatory authorities.

After being informed about the incident, authorities embarked on a rescue operation that involved the use of several caterpillars, but until now, the efforts have not yielded results.

“As of this morning, no rescue has been made. Yesterday, due to rain, machines couldn’t work as they were stuck in the already muddy soil. The rescue continues today,” ACP Boniface Rutikanga, the Deputy Spokesperson of Rwanda National Police (RNP), told The New Times on Tuesday morning.

Mine accidents seem to be an issue to worry about. For instance, at least 116 mining accident-related deaths were recorded in 2018 and 106 in 2019. Of the 2019 deaths, 47 were blamed on illegal mining in both mining and quarries. Mining deaths in quarries alone increased from 12 to 20 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, according to a report by Rwanda Mines Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB).

In 2018, only 23 per cent of mining firms complied with mining standards, which number increased to 40 per cent in 2019. That means firms failed to comply with safety and health standards, waste management, modern mining operations, environment protection, processing, infrastructures, community relations, and others.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, April 27, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) arrested 10 people for allegedly being behind the illegal mine in Huye District.