One dead body has so far been recovered in the pit in which some illegal miners (galamseyers) reportedly got trapped when it caved in on them at Nsuta, near Prestea, in the Western Region on Monday.
Report says 17 people were killed in the tragedy.
The body was found after the elders of the mining community had performed some rituals to appease the gods of the area and to ask permission for the rescue team to descend into the pit to retrieve the dead bodies.
Contrary to media reports that 14 illegal miners were feared dead in the pit, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has stated categorically that 17 miners were rather trapped in the pit.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that the illegal miners in the pit were about 22, but five of them managed to escape unhurt when the pit caved in.
The five survivors were currently assisting the police in their investigations.
An eyewitness, Nanaba Boakye Ansah of Prestea-based Energy FM, indicated that the rest of the miners were still in the pit as at press time and that efforts were being made to recover them.
Speaking to an Accra-based television station, Mr Amewu pointed out that immediately after the incident, he sent his deputy, Benito Owusu Bio, to the scene to assess the situation.
He indicated that about 22 locals at Nsuta went into the pit to mine gold.
According to the minister, in the process and unknown to the galamseyers, there was a blast from another end and so the shaft or the escape routes of the illegal miners caved in.
He disclosed that the rescue team was doing everything possible to retrieve the bodies, adding, “This was after the elders in the area had performed some rites to pacify the gods of the area.”
The Western Regional Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olivia Ewurabena Adiku, also confirmed that one body had been found and that the rescuers were trying to bring it out.
“Officials from NADMO, Golden Star Resources Limited and the police personnel are all at the scene trying to retrieve the bodies of the victims.
“I also gathered that the deputy minister for Lands and Natural Resources was also around the area to assess the situation,” she indicated.
ASP Adiku pointed out that the police gathered that the pit was an old one that the illegal miners sneaked into to operate.
“The initial information we gathered was that 14 were trapped and were feared dead but now we have been told that the number was rather 17,” she added.