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Dozens dead in Sudan mine collapse

By Isma'il Kushkush, for CNN
May 2, 2013 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Darfur Regional Authority official says 52 bodies have been recovered
  • The collapse happened Monday in Sudan's north Darfur region
  • Many people are still unaccounted for, the official says

Khartoum, Sudan (CNN) -- A gold mine in the western Sudanese state of Darfur collapsed this week, killing scores of people and leaving many still unaccounted for, an official says.

"Fifty-two bodies have so far been recovered," said Yaqub al-Damuki, minister of information for the Darfur Regional Authority. "But the search is still going on."

State-run Ashorooq TV, quoting a local official, reported Thursday that the collapse killed more than 60 people. It said the accident occurred after people dug in dangerous areas of the mine.

The mine collapsed in the Jebel Amir area of the town of El Serief in north Darfur on Monday, an eyewitness said. Fighting between two Arab tribes over land and mining rights in the area this year has killed hundreds of people.

The violence in the area has also sent thousands into camps for internally displaced people.

Independent gold mining has seen a boom in Sudan in the past few years, as the country looks for new sources to boost its economy. In 2011, South Sudan separated from Sudan, taking with it most of the country's oil revenue.

One eyewitness said that the mines in the area were not well organized.

"The mining tunnels were very close to each other," Hamid al-Tijani said, adding that area mines "were supposed to be closed and then reorganized."

"But that did not happen."

The death toll, al-Tijani said, could get higher.

"Anyone not accounted for is presumed dead," he said.

Authorities ordered the mine shut until calm is restored in the region.

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