At least 20 killed when mine collapses in eastern Congo

KINSHASA (REUTERS) - At least 20 people were killed when a mine collapsed in mineral-rich but conflict-plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following heavy rains, the government said on Friday.

The accident occurred on Thursday at the mine near the village of Rubaye in the country's North Kivu province. Local officials were attempting to recover bodies still believed buried on Friday.

"We're still digging at the site, so the death toll could rise. The provincial government is handling the rescue," government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters.

Congo's eastern borderlands have some of the world's largest deposits of tin ore and coltan, which is used in electronic devices like mobile phones and video game consoles.

But the region is a patchwork of rebel and militia fiefdoms left over from a 1998-2003 civil war that killed millions, and the insecurity has discouraged large-scale industrial mining.

Rampant poverty has pushed hundreds of thousands of Congolese to work in unregulated smaller mines, often controlled by armed groups, where fatal accidents are commonplace.

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