Illegal mining blamed for recent flooding in Ghana

11:06, July 26, 2011      

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Illegal mining should be blamed for recent floodings that killed five people in the country's Eastern Province, a senior Ghanaian official said Monday.

Speaking to local press during an inspection tour to the flooded areas, Regional Minister Kwesi Appea-Kubi said illegal mining, known as "galamsey" locally, had caused the Birim River to overflow its banks.

Eight communities in the Eastern Province, 85 km northwest of the capital, were flooded following four days of torrential rainfall last week.

The minister, who accompanied President John Evans Atta Mills to visit the disaster zones, pledged to take measures to clamp down on illegal mining in the region to save lives and property in future.

The worst hit areas include the Atiwa, Kade and the Fanteakwa districts, with a number of victims there forced to climb up coconut and other tall trees and onto roof tops while waiting for evacuation.

At least five people have been confirmed dead by the police and 5,000 displaced.

"As a people, and as a government, we need to ensure that this illegal mining business that is going on is stopped. Don't let us combine it with politics," the minister said.

Appea-Kubi lamented the destruction of vegetation by miners, lumbermen and wood-cutters looking for fuel, and the blocking of river paths as a result.

"If you go to the Akyem Abuakwa area that has been extensively mined, the rain just hits the soil, it removes the soil, and where does it go? Together with the rain water, it goes straight into the nearest stream," the minister said.

He confirmed that relief supplies and emergency evacuation programs had been put in place for the affected communities.

Meanwhile, officials from the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the 48 Engineer Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces had been dispatched to help the affected.

The country's meteorological services had warned that there could be floods across southern Ghana, where water levels already started rising.

Similar floods had hit two regions of the country -- Greater Accra and Central Region -- on June 20 last year, killing 38.

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