Kolwezi: Fifteen people have suffocated while digging in an illegal mine in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the problem of illicit mining is widespread, an official said Saturday.
The incident occurred on Friday in Kolwezi in the mineral-rich province of Katanga, where scores of impoverished illegal miners risk their lives in search of minerals including copper and cobalt.
"Fifteen artisanal miners died yesterday in a tunnel in Kolwezi," Mayor Deoda Kapenda told AFP.
"The miners died by suffocation in a tunnel more than 20 metres deep. It was not a landslide."
The victims also bore burn marks of unclear origin, he said.
Despite its enormous natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the world`s least developed countries.