KINSHASA, July 12 (Reuters) - A Congolese mine that provided
uranium for the first atomic bombs has collapsed, killing at least nine miners,
officials and rescue workers said on Monday.
The Shinkolobwe mine was abandoned after the end of World War Two by the
Belgians, then colonial masters of the Congo, but thousands of illegal miners
still descend makeshift shafts in search of valuable copper and cobalt
"These people were ... miners who were digging when the collapse
happened," said Petwe Kapande, mayor of the nearby town of Likasi in the
southeast part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nine bodies had been recovered and nine people had been pulled out alive
since the partial collapse on Friday, a miner helping with the rescue effort
"There are at least 30 people still underground and I don't think there
is any hope for them," he told Reuters by telephone.
"We are still pulling bodies out. It is only through the will of God that
the three people we rescued today are alive."
Shinkolobwe, one of Congo's largest and oldest mines, provided the
uranium for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in
Its main mineshaft was filled with concrete after World War Two when the
United States lobbied to have a potential security threat removed.
The miners who quarry the site dig up compounds which are in high demand
on the world market and sell them to Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and South Korean
smelter operators, local residents said.