The Perkoa mine, owned by Canadian company Trevali Mining Corp (TV.TO) and located about 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital Ouagadougou, was suddenly submerged on April 16 after torrential rains fell unexpectedly during the country’s dry season.
During a month-long search and rescue operation, there had been dim hope the missing men had been able to reach the rescue chamber, which is stocked with food and water and is located around 570 meters below earth.
“Rescue teams have opened the shelter room, unfortunately it is empty,” the government information service said in a statement posted on social media.
Trevali said the shelter bedroom was found intact and it was now clear that none of the eight missing workers had reached it.
“This is devastating news, and we would like to offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of our colleagues at this difficult time,” Ricus Grimbeek, president and CEO of Trevali, said in a statement.
“We will continue our search efforts unabated and reaffirm our commitment to working at full speed to locate our colleagues.”
Distraught relatives of the missing men gathered at the site in Sanguie province every day, seeking solace from each other as they faced the agonizing wait for news.
Fatal mining accidents are common in Africa. The Perkoa flood attracted more attention than many due to hopes, albeit remote, of an outcome similar to Chile’s dramatic 2010 rescue of 33 miners who had spent 69 days underground – but that was not the case. was not the case.
The company and the government have launched investigations into the causes of the disaster. The prime minister said on May 2 that mine managers had been banned from leaving the country.
The Perkoa mine consists of an open pit with underground shafts and galleries below. Most of the workers who were there at the time of the flash flood were able to escape, but the missing eight were more than 520 meters (1,706 ft) below the surface.
Six of the missing men are from Burkina Faso, one from Tanzania and one from Zambia.
As many in Burkina Faso wonder why it took so long to reach the emergency chamber and criticism of the company and state emergency services mounts, Trevali said that the technical challenges were immense.
The flooding was so violent that it washed out the road leading to the mine and damaged the power supply. The road had to be rebuilt and power restored before a full-scale search could begin.
Initially, the equipment was transported on foot, but vehicles were needed to install machines capable of pumping water from depths less than 500 meters.
Rescuers pumped out around 55 million liters of flood water, out of an estimated 165 million liters that swept through the underground part of the mine.
cnn World Gt