At least seven people have been killed in a landslide that occurred at a gold mining quarry in the northern Vietnamese province of Lao Cai.
Nguyen Huu The, vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, confirmed the death toll from the disaster at the Ma Sa Phin gold mine, located in Nam Xay Commune, Van Ban District, to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday night.
The seven deceased victims, who were all gold miners, were Truong Van Nhat, 21, Ban Van Loi, 17, Ban Van Nhung, 50, Trieu Van Bach, 34, Ban Van Ngan, 17, Hoang Van Tu, 40, and Pham Van Tu, 39.
According to Do Van Duy, chairman of the Van Ban administration, the accident happened between Friday night and Saturday morning, brought about by tropical storm Dianmu.
Employees of the Vang Nhan Company, which had been licensed to mine for gold in the area, were resting in their camps at the foot of the mountain when thousands of cubic meters of land, accompanied by a flash flood, swept through the venue, washing away several miners.
The gold quarry is in an isolated mountainous area some 20 kilometers away from the centre of Nam Xay Commune, Duy said, adding that the landslide also destroyed a local bridge.
Initial reports by provincial authorities indicated that only two men had died in the mudslide, but local residents claimed that they had seen a score of bodies swept out of the mine.
“At first we discovered two victims, but later identified the other five as workers here. We had to be careful to verify this information,” vice-chairman The explained.
Several local media outlets reported that a total of 18 people had lost their lives in the disaster, which was refuted by the official.
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has requested further clarification, and a prompt resolution in order to support the families of the victims.
In a related development, landslides and heavy rain have also knocked down three houses and damaged sections of the roads in Sa Pa, a famous tourist destination in Lao Cai Province, local leaders confirmed on Tuesday morning.