At least 30 workers were killed and several others injured when a gold mine in northeastern Afghanistan collapsed Sunday, local officials said.
Nek Mohammad Nazari, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told Agence France-Presse the victims were illegally searching for gold and had dug deep in a riverbed in the Kohistan district of Badakhshan province when the walls caved in.
Local villagers and the Taliban alike rely heavily on illegal mining for revenue in the region.
“The villagers have been involved in this business for decades with no government control over them,” Nazari said. “We have sent a rescue team to the area, but villagers have already started removing bodies from the site.”
Sanaullah Rohani, a spokesman for the police chief in Badakhshan, told the Associated Press about 50 people were working in the mine at the time of the collapse and a number of victims are in critical condition. Rohani said the tragedy was caused by a landslide.
Landslides are common in the remote, mountainous area, often caused by heavy rain and snow. In 2014, a pair of huge mudslides killed hundreds of people in Badakhshan province. As many as 2,500 people reportedly may have died in that disaster.