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Five children killed in Congo mine collapse

 Six people including five children died when a in a tin mine collapsed in southeast Congo. Two people were also missing after the accident yesterday at an abandoned mine, said The United Nations radio station, Radio Okapi. The radio station says the collapse also killed a woman who had three children. It was unclear if any of the dead were related to each other.

Congo is awash with gold, diamonds and metals such as cassiterite and coltan used to weld small pieces together in electronics. The sprawling central African country, which is the size of Western Europe, doesn’t have basic facilities such as roads that cross the country. Many of its mines are difficult to get to, making it nearly impossible to keep check for safety hazards and child labour. Africa is lagging behind other parts of the world in wiping out child labour. Sub-Saharan Africa has the biggest number of working children, according to the International Labour organisation, with 26 per cent of 5-14 year olds working, compared with 19 per cent in Asia and five per cent in Latin America. The struggle of widespread extreme poverty, high population growth, Aids rate, food crisis and conflict make the problem worse. Millions of children in the region are victims of the worst types of child labour, such as sexual exploitation, child trafficking, training children to fight as soldiers, and to do dangerous work such as domestic work, farming and mining.

Less than a month ago, six miners were killed and five others injured when a commercially abandoned mine collapsed in south eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It happened in a former copper mine owned by state company Gecamines. "Six diggers have been killed and we count five injured, including one seriously," Charlotte Mabansime, the mayor of the mining town of Kolwezi told South African news service, Independent online. Local authorities said Gecamines has not operated the mine for around 10 years as it was not considered financially viable, though it attracted illegal miners. Illegal mining operations are widely tolerated.

The country is one of the most mineral rich in the world, but has been troubled by political instability. The five year civil war that ended in 2003, claimed an estimated three million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. It has been called possibly the worst emergency to unfold in Africa in recent decades. Fighting was fuelled by mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children