At least six people died due to the collapse of an artisanal diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

According to a Reuters report, the incident happened when workers were working underground at the mine situated near the city of Tshikapa.

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As of now, six bodies were recovered while the search and rescue operations in the ruins continue.

Congolese artisanal mining agency SAEMAPE provincial director Luc Pongo Mwamba was quoted by the news agency: “For the moment, SAEMAPE and the Kasai provincial mines ministry acknowledge six fatalities from the landslide that took place in Tshikapa.”

He added that the number of casualties may increase.

Xinhua reported that the incident had affected more than 40 wells between 15m and 18m in depth. After the collapse, the Congolese authorities suspended mining activities at the site.

Operations are usually conducted manually in artisanal mines without proper safety measures, which increases the risk of fatal accidents.

In September 2020, a similar collapse of an artisanal gold mine near Kamituga in the eastern DRC killed more than 50 people.

Another 12 miners lost their lives due to a makeshift gold mine cave-in near Bondo, Lower Uele province, DRC, in May last year. The collapse was due to a landslide that occurred some days before.

According to government data, artisanal miners produced around 9.2 million carats of diamonds last year.