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|Wednesday, March 14, 2001, updated at 14:52(GMT+8)|
At Least 70 Dead as Congo Mine CollapsesAt least 70 miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo were killed over the weekend after several tunnels in their ore mine collapsed, officials in the rebel-held town of Goma said on Tuesday.
Officials said the accident at the remote mine, located about 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Goma on the Rwandan border, occurred on Saturday. But details only came to light on Tuesday.
"The total number of people (who died) when the mine collapsed is confirmed to be 70," Jean Pierre Kisanga, a spokesman for the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), said in a telephone interview from Goma.
He said the victims were working in several tunnels when they collapsed, possibly due to heavy rains that have been pounding the area.
"Exhuming (the bodies) is a challenging task because they were buried in the tunnels which are not easily accessible," Kisanga said.
Most of the victims were young men, some of them local farmers, who see mining as a way of getting rich in a region rife with war and poverty.
The mine contains a steel-grey, glittering ore known locally as coltan, a mixture of columbite and tantalite, used in electronics, light bulb filaments and nuclear reactor parts.
Coltan is mined intensively in the remote mountains of northeastern Congo and is said to fund rebel activity in the region.
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