Four people in Khamkeuth district, Borikhamxay province were killed when their makeshift goldmine collapsed on top of them on Tuesday night.
The four locals were residents of Nathone village aged between 20-30 years old and were among 12 people who had excavated their rice field in search of gold during that night.
District authorities have been able to recover the bodies of all four victims from the tragic site with the assistance of police and local officials, district Police Officer Major KongchanhXaypanya told Vientiane Times yesterday via telephone while travelling to the site.
The other eight people in the group were not digging for gold when the accident occurred.
The four deceased were sent to their families for religious ceremonies at the temple during a time of great sadness for parents, friends and the local community.
Major Kongchanh said the accident occurred around 7-8 pm at a rice field in Thongkhae village (formerly known as Nafeuangkao village) where 12 people had gathered to dig for gold.
The search began on Wednesday and was very difficult as the 4-5 metre deep hole was covered with mud and water. The authorities needed to use a pump to take the water out and an excavator to remove the mud, Major Kongchanh said.
During the first day of searching authorities could recover only three bodies while the other victim was found yesterday.
Major Kongchanh said people from villages in the area often set up temporary goldmines at the end of their harvest season in the hope of finding gold and generating extra income for their families.
The Major stated that gold prospecting and mining has been carried out by locals for a long time with old stories claiming to have unearthed big discoveries.
Major Kongchanh noted the tragic incident was the first to befall the village since locals began digging makeshift goldmines in their rice fields.
District authorities have now ordered local people to stop digging for gold after this tragedy in order to prevent it happening again, he said.
Some people have suggested that authorities should have measures to ban local people from creating temporary goldmines in the interest of safety.
It is believed that improvised goldmines in rice fields not only occur in Borikhamxay, but also in other provinces.
Source: Vientiane Times