A blast in a Burkina Faso gold mine has killed 59 people and injured more than 100 others, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
Authorities said that the explosion happened in the village of Gbomblora and was believed to be caused by chemicals used to treat gold that were stocked at the site.
“I saw bodies everywhere. It was horrible,” local forest ranger Sansan Kambou told the AP.
Kambou said the first blast happened around 2 p.m. local time, with more explosions occurring as people ran for their lives.
Mining experts have said that small-scale mines have fewer regulations than their industrial counterparts, leading to more dangerous conditions, the AP reported.
“The limited regulation of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector contributes to increased risks that can be very dangerous, including the use of explosives which are often smuggled into the country and used illegally,” said Marcena Hunter, senior analyst at Swiss-based think tank Global Initiative.
Small gold mines such as Gbomblora have grown over the recent years, with 800 scattered across the country.
Small gold mines have also become a target for al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists, who have staged numerous attacks in Burkina Faso since 2016, the AP reported.
The terrorist network raises funds by taxing miners and uses mine sites to recruit fighters and seek refuge.