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At least 20 dead in DR Congo gold mine collapse: minister

At least 20 people were killed in a gold mine collapse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local minister said on Sunday.

The deaths occurred overnight at a mine in South Kivu region in the east of the country, the province's mines minister Apollinaire Bulindi said.

The toll is likely to rise "because many people were working in a disorderly way in this quarry," Bulindi said, referring to "illegal miners".

DR Congo mine accident

DR Congo mine accident ©Thomas SAINT-CRICQ, Jonathan STOREY (AFP)

The Makungu mine where the accident took place is located in the Fizi district of Sud Kivu near the border with the Tanganyika province.

"We (the provincial authorities) do not control this quarry, these are soldiers who are working there...," he said.

Mining accidents are common in mineral rich DR Congo.

Last year, 15 people have suffocated while digging in an illegal mine in southeast, where the problem of illicit mining is widespread.

Much of the gold mined in Sud Kivu is smuggled out of the country to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and from there allegedly to Dubai, according to the OECD.

Rebel militia frequently use illicit gold trading as a source of financing.

President Joepeh Kabila in 2010 imposed a nine-month ban on illegal mining in three provinces including Sud Kivu.

It hit cassiterite and coltan mining but failed to have any impact on the gold mining there, OECD added.

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