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Scores killed in blast at informal gold mine in Burkina Faso

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Informal gold miners are seen taking a break from work under the midday sun at an artisanal mining site near Dano, southern Burkina Faso on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

About 60 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an explosion at an informal gold mining site in southwest Burkina Faso.

Local officials and hospital staff the blast at a makeshift gold-panning site at Gomgombiro in the southwest of the country happened when a stock of dynamite blew up.

Images showed a large blast site of felled trees and destroyed tin houses. Bodies lay on the ground, covered in mats.

A hospital source said the toll could rise as some of the injured were in a critical condition. Women and children were among the 60 or so injured in the blast.

Burkina Faso is home to some major gold mines run by international companies, but also to hundreds of smaller, informal sites that operate without oversight or regulation.

Accidents are common in the so-called artisanal mines where children often work.

Burkina Faso is one of the world's least developed countries. It is under attack from Takfiri groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh which seek control of mining sites as a means to fund their violent attacks.

Monday's blast was reportedly hundreds of miles from where these groups usually operate and there was no sign that Takfiri militants were involved.

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