The 22 illegal miners who were trapped in a Galamsey pit at Prestea in the Western Region have been given a mass burial after a search and rescue team indicated that their bodies could not be retrieved.

Confirming the development to Citi News the Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister Benito Owusu-Bio also said the site had been closed down after religious rituals were performed for the victims.

Mr. Owusu Bio explained that “We have now decided to close the pit with the help of Golden Star Resources Limited who have provided equipment for that. A Catholic mass was held for the dead.

Islamic and traditional prayers were also offered. All the customary rites have been performed and we assume they are all dead and we are sealing up the pit. We are piling rocks and debris on it to the extent that nobody can reach that part again.”

He added that “the total number of victims we have now is 22 who we have identified by name and age. The 14 or 17 earlier quoted were understated”. Mr. Owusu Bio believes this incident should lead to an end in the illegality. He called on Ghanaians, particularly residents in the Prestea Huni Valley District to help end the illegality.

He said “government thinks that they should stop..The unfortunate thing is that this particular type of galamsey is very difficult to locate so we are appealing to the general public especially the people of Prestea and its environs to help us by actually locating where they are so that we can ask the military to flush them out.”

Meanwhile the Prestea District Police Command is still conducting criminal investigations into the incident to arrest the culprits.