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Dozens are still trapped after a gold mine collapsed in north-central Nigeria

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Associated Press (AP) – Rescuers searched Thursday for dozens of workers trapped when a gold mine collapsed in north-central Nigeria, authorities and residents said.

The well in the remote Shiroro district of Niger state collapsed on Monday after heavy rains softened the ground. According to state emergency services, one person is confirmed dead and at least 30 others are missing. However, residents said as many as 44 people were trapped.

Much of northern Nigeria is rich in minerals, but corruption, illegal activities and poor working conditions are common in mining operations because the deposits are usually located in remote areas with minimal government presence.

First responders “had to run for their lives as the mine kept caving in,” Abdullahi Arah, head of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, said in a preliminary report.

Rescue operations soon resumed, but expanding the deep pit to locate the trapped workers was a challenge, emergency services spokesman Ibrahim Hussaini said.

“If you have something almost the size of a three-story building in the ground, how can an excavator get to that spot?” he said.

On Thursday, distraught families watched as rescuers worked to remove the remaining debris.

The mine collapsed on Yakubu Galkogo’s first day on the job, and his wife and two children are very concerned, said his brother Auwal Suleiman.

Suleiman urged the government to deploy more workers and equipment for the rescue operation. “There is a lot of tension here,” he says.

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