Heavy rains for days led to the disaster. “The diggers and the transporters of the stones were swallowed up by the waters,” said the Kamituga mayor, Alexandre Bundya. “A team of rescuers with motor pumps came to recover the bodies of the victims.”
Diwa Honoré, who survived the tragedy, said more than 50 people had been in the three mines, which are about 50 meters (54 yards) deep. "Kamituga is in mourning,” wrote Dieudonné Bazika, sharing a video on social media showing the aftermath. Hundreds of people gathered to observe and help in rescue efforts.
Most of the dead were young people, according to a statement from the office of the governor of South Kivu, Theo Ngwabidje Kasi, who offered condolences to families. “Investigations continue to identify our deceased compatriots, to provide assistance and to take measures to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies,” the statement said.
Artisanal mining quarries are often unsafe in eastern Congo and the Kasai region. Women and children also work in the mines to make ends meet. Deadly collapses occurred earlier this year in Maniema and in Katanga, killing at least 18 people.
Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.