Surinamese media speak of 18 to 21 deaths, but those numbers are still unconfirmed. According to media in Suriname, the mine shaft collapsed, burying the people who were searching for gold at the time.
Number of victims
President Santokhi told parliament today that illegal gold seekers had already been sent away at the site of the disaster. The disaster happened in Kleine Saramacca, the former operating area of the Canadian gold company Iamgold, which was taken over by the Chinese Zijin Mining in February 2023.
The situation is serious, the head of state said. “The initial indication is that there are ten people involved, but it could be that there are more people involved,” he said of the number of people who were buried.
“Priority number 1 is to see if there are any survivors and at the same time start a recovery operation,” Santokhi said. The message reached him in parliament during the general considerations. He explained that the accident happened in an area where a gold vein had previously been discovered that brought in large groups of gold seekers.
According to Santokhi, the gold company Zijin had previously requested security measures. The army and police had already destroyed the camps that had been set up. The gold seekers had – as before – also been ordered to leave the site. In practice, it appears that small miners usually return quite quickly to places where gold has been found.
Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk traveled to the disaster area by helicopter. The army, police and the National Disaster Management Coordination Center have been called in to provide assistance.