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Zambia reports over 30 people trapped beneath rubble after open-pit mine collapse

More than 30 people are trapped under the rubble after part of a pile of waste appears to have collapsed at an open-pit mine in Zambia, a government minister said Friday.

Home Affairs and Home Security Minister Jack Mwiyimbu told parliament that the collapse occurred in the city of Chingola in Zambia’s copper belt, about 398 miles north of the capital Lusaka.

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“Can we inform the public that a tragedy is happening in Chingola, where many people have been affected by the collapse of an open pit,” Mwiyimbu said. “There are more than 30 people under the rubble and we are having difficulty getting them out.”

He said rescue teams were on the scene.

The Zambian flag is raised during an African Cup of Nations soccer match in Libreville, Gabon, on February 12, 2012. (Pius Utomi Ekpay/AFP via Getty Images)

Mines and Mineral Development Minister Paul Kabuswe, who was also at the scene, said no one had yet been found and it was unclear exactly how many people were trapped under the rubble.

Informal artisanal mining is common in Chingola, but ministers did not say whether the trapped people were informal miners.

This southern African country is one of the top 10 copper producers in the world. Cobalt is also mined in Chingola.

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Chingola is home to one of the world’s largest open-pit mines, with a series of mines stretching over 10.9 miles. The area is marked by a huge waste dump made of rock and earth dug from mines.

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