An explosion near the informal gold mine in southwestern Burkina Faso has resulted in the deaths of at least 55 people and wounded more than 100 others.
Citing Sansan Kambou, a forest ranger who was at the site at the time of the accident, The Associated Press said that the first blast occurred at around 2pm on 21 February 2022, followed by additional explosions in the village of Gbomblora.
Regional authorities provided the provisional toll following the blast in Poni province, reported Burkina Faso’s national broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina (RTB).
Although the cause of the explosion is yet to be officially determined, it is believed to have been triggered by the chemicals that are used to treat gold stocked at the mining site, according to Burkina Faso’s national broadcaster and witnesses via The Associated Press.
However, France24 reported local officials and hospital staff as saying that the blast, which occurred at a makeshift gold-panning site, happened when a dynamite stock blew up.
A hospital source was cited by the news agency as saying: “At least five casualties have succumbed to their wounds, bringing the toll to 55.”
Burkina Faso hosts a number of major gold mines, which are operated by international companies.
However, hundreds of smaller, informal gold mining sites in the country are reportedly operated without oversight or regulation.