A twenty-eight year-old Sierra Leonean identified as George Philips has been killed by a mudslide at an illegal gold mine in Gbeni Town, Gola Kanneh District, Grand Cape Mount County.
The incident occurred on March 20, according to police assigned in the area.
The police said Philips had gone early that fateful morning to his regular mining site when a stockpile of mud created by the illegal miners over the years broke loose and buried him alive.
The police report further stated that during the time of the tragedy, victim Philips was the only person in the pit.
The police statement was confirmed by co-workers of the victim.
The deceased was removed from the debris when residents of Gbene Town were called in to help.
The rescue team had to use their hands to remove the victim from under the debris as the illegal miners have no access to heavy equipment.
Because they were using their bare hands to rescue the victim, the police indicated, they spent several hours to remove Philips from the debris.
Following the removal the body, a 15-man coroner jury was set-up at the Tahn Magisterial Court to determine whether there was foul play.
However, following several hours of court proceeding, it was unanimously agreed by the court that there was no foul play in victim Philips’ death.
The body was later turned over to the Mende Governor of the county, Abdu Malike Kamara, for burial.
The issue of illegal mining and tragic deaths resulting from it is not strange in the gold-rich District of Gola Konneh in Grand Cape Mount County.
Four months ago, a man was discovered dead along a river in Gola Konneh District three days after he had gone to his mining site along the same river.
Most of these illegal miners cite unemployment as the reason for their illegal activity.
In February, over 45 “illegal gold miners” died in Gbanepea Town in Saclepea, Nimba County when the walls of the pit in which they were operating collapsed and buried all of them live.
To date only about 10 of the estimated 45 bodies were recovered by rescuers.