An illegal mine collapsed in Brokopondo, about two hours south of Paramaribo. Surinamese President Santokhi reported this evening in the National Assembly that there were deaths.
It is not clear how many people died there. Surinamese media talk about 18 to 21 deaths, but point out that these are unconfirmed numbers. People were searching for gold in the mine shaft when they were buried.
Santokhi said: “Information indicates that in any case (the well, the well) has collapsed, and people are trapped, and most likely they are all victims of this serious accident.” According to the president, the gold seekers were working in a “temporary tunnel of great depth.”
General political deliberations in Suriname’s parliament were suspended after this announcement. The government is considering declaring national mourning for a day or more.
The government sent the army, police and the National Disaster Management Coordination Center to the mine site. Santhuki said this was initially a rescue operation. The government will ask Brazil for help “if we as a country cannot solve our problem rescue operations“.
Vice President Ronnie Brunswick also traveled to Brokopondo. According to Santhuki, he will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
“What we can do at this time is to take the necessary measures, but at the same time send sympathy and compassion to all relatives,” the Surinamese president said.
Dagblad Suriname writes that the army and police expelled illegal gold miners from the site a month ago.