, LUSAKA, June 11 – Eight illegal Zambian miners, most of them school-age youths, were killed at a copper mine in Kitwe after a shaft collapsed on them, a government official said on Thursday.
"It is sad because most of the dead victims should have been going to school instead of engaging in illegal mining," said Kitwe town official Ali Simwinga.
According to Simwinga, other victims sustained serious injuries, but managed to evade investigators.
High levels of unemployment in the copper-rich southern African country have forced people to resort to illegal mining.
Zambia has some of the world’s largest copper reserves and the metal accounts for 80 percent of the country’s export earnings.
In South Africa, over 80 illegal miners were killed in one of the country’s deadliest mining accidents when fire broke out at an abandoned gold mine.
The accidents have highlighted the mining industry’s illicit trade, as mines around the region shed jobs due to reduced global demand for raw materials.