Page last updated at 19:49 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Sierra Leone denies mine accident reports


Officials in Sierra Leone have denied reports of an accident at a gold mine.

Unconfirmed local reports suggested up to 200 people were missing - or had been killed - at the mine near the southern town of Bo.

Minister of Mineral Resources Alpha Kanu visited the site and denied an accident had occurred.

People at the mine were surprised to see him because nothing was wrong, Mr Kanu told the BBC. He dismissed the reports as "wicked rumours".

"We conducted an inspection of the area. There hasn't been any sort of accident there - not even a goat has broken a foot in that place" Mr Kanu said after visiting the mining town of Baomahun, about 40 miles (65 km) north of Bo.

Mr Kanu added he had driven down from the northern town of Makeni accompanied by military to verify the reports, following a call from the local police superintendent about the alleged collapse.

Explaining how reports on the alleged collapse emerged, he said the local police superintendent might have heard it on on the local radio station, Kiss 104 FM, which had been broadcasting the story.

The mine is run by the British company Cluff Gold, the minister told the BBC.

Cluff personnel inspected the mine in Baomahun following the reports and confirmed there had been no accident there, a spokesperson for Cluff Gold in the capital city Freetown said.

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