Kabul (Agencies): At least 30 people were killed and seven others were injured when a gold mine collapsed in northeastern Afghanistan on Sunday, officials said.
Another seven were injured in the incident in Kohistan district of Badakhshan province, said district governor Mohammad Rustam Raghi.
Villagers had dug a 60-metre (200-feet) deep shaft in a river bed to search for gold. They were inside when the walls fell in.
It was not clear why the shaft collapsed, but the provincial governor’s spokesman Nik Mohammad Nazari said the miners were not professionals.
“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.”
Defence ministry helicopters have been dispatched to deliver cash to the families of the victims and airlift the wounded to hospitals, said Hashmat Bahaduri, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority.
Bahaduri confirmed the casualty toll, but warned the figures could change.
Families of the wounded will receive 10,000 afghanis (about $130) in compensation, while those of the dead will get 50,000 afghanis, he said.
Badakhshan is a remote, mountainous province in northeast Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.