Local officials said over 60 people died in an explosion at a makeshift gold mine in a community in south-west Burkina Faso.
Witnesses said the explosion occurred at a bazaar at the gold-mining site when dynamite stored there caught fire.
“There were bodies strewn everywhere. It was an explosion that managed to uproot trees and bring down houses,” a judicial source told Reuters.
Hundreds of people were hurt and were transported to the nearest hospital.
According to the AFP news agency, women and children are among the victims.
Following a visit to the area near Gaoua by the regional prosecutor, an investigation into Monday’s incident was launched.
One person has been taken into custody and is being questioned.
According to Burkina Faso’s news agency, AIB, the goldmine has been closed until further notice.
According to a local news reporter from RTB TV, the explosion blew up and destroyed “everything in its path.”
According to local leader Sansan Urbain Kambou, many of the miners at the site are displaced individuals from other parts of the country.
Burkina Faso is one of Africa’s largest gold producers, with multiple large-scale mines as well as small-scale operations with minimal oversight or regulation.
According to BBC West Africa journalist Nicolas Negoce, gold has surpassed cotton as Burkina Faso’s main export since 2009.
According to the ministry in charge of mines and quarries, the country produced 54 tonnes of gold in 2020, up from 45 tonnes in 2019, a 20% rise.
Unauthorized mines account for around a quarter of overall output and employ around 1.5 million people, according to the government.
Roof collapses and other deadly mishaps are common at informal mining in several African countries.
At least 13 people were killed in a massive blast in Ghana last month after a vehicle carrying explosives to a gold mine collided with a motorcycle.