Another mineworker has been reported dead at the Shaanxi Mining Ghana Ltd even as Talensi, a deprived-looking district in the Upper East Region is still mourning the loss of two men who died from a mining disaster in the same mine just 3 weeks ago.
The latest mishap said to have struck on Wednesday evening, also left another miner at death’s door as he is battling to stay alive on a surgical ward at the Upper East Regional Hospital.
A string of disasters, linked to the Chinese-owned company, has hit Gbane, a mineral-rich enclave in the underdeveloped district, since two local mining groups— Yenyeya and Pubortaaba— brought the Chinese to the area in 2008 reportedly to render “technical support” to their local hosts.
On May 26, 2013, three small-scale miners perished when gas from an explosive engulfed a mining tunnel. Three miners lost their lives when a mining pit collapsed on them in October 2014. On Wednesday, April 2, that same year, 2 miners were gassed to death and one person sustained severe injuries. In April 2015, 2 miners died and 8 were critically injured after an explosive went off underground in the same area.
At least 16 small-scale miners were rushed from the community to the Upper East Regional Hospital after inhaling poisonous gas from a mining explosive in 2016. Seven miners were trapped several feet down whilst scooping gold ore from the adventurous dark belly of the ground in September 2017. They all died in similar circumstances, with bereaved families pitched against a bleak future.
In January 2019, the deaths of 17 mineworkers — the worst disaster caused by a Shaanxi’s explosive blast in the history of mining in the community— tossed Ghana into a state of ‘ground-shaking tremor’ also felt at the doorsteps of international newsrooms.
Survivor awaiting Referral— Doctors
A distraught member of the community told Starr News anonymously on Thursday: “A mass of muck, or you can call it a loose or a rock if you like, fell on them whilst they were working underground. One of them died. His ribs were broken. I saw blood coming out from the left side of his stomach. The other one is at the surgical ward. His back is seriously affected.”
The 39-year-old lone survivor of the latest misfortune, Moses Bataribanam, is to be referred to the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) in the Northern region, doctors at the Upper East Regional Hospital say.
“He is on admission with fractures of the left ribs. He has difficulty breathing. Without oxygen, it is not good at all. But he is stable. He is conscious. He can talk. Except that he has difficulty breathing because of the pain.
“The left leg to the knee has some abrasions. The foot is swollen with the ankle. He is on treatment and awaiting referral to the teaching hospital for further management. One was brought in dead,” the hospital’s Clinical Coordinator, Dr Samuel Aborah, told Starr News on Thursday.
One Disaster too Many— Shaanxi PRO
The day broke on Thursday in the hilly district with some of the natives, who had received news of the tragedy the cold previous night, sighing with sorrow and despair in their yards and along paths: “The Chinese will finish all our people.”
And for the very first time, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Shaanxi Mining Ghana Ltd, Maxwell Wooma, has admitted in public, with a tone of regret, that the latest development is “one too many”.
“The rock fell on the last man, Richard Nakpier, underground. It affected his waist. He was taken to the regional hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, he could not survive it. Some parts of the rock also fell on the drill assistant who was standing by. It hit his legs and some parts of his chest. He is responding to treatment as I speak to you at the regional hospital in Bolgatanga.
“It is a very unfortunate occurrence. It is very unfortunate. These accidents and fatalities have become one too many. There is a need for general overhauling of safety codes in the mine. For now, we will submit ourselves to investigations and also use this time to revisit all safety practices before anything can continue,” the PRO said in a Starr News interview.