At least seven people were killed after an illegal mine collapsed in Ethiopia's Oromia regional state, officials said Tuesday.
11 others were also found themselves in a critical condition, the state broadcaster reported, citing the officials.
The incident occurred as artisanal gold miners were caught up by the incident and buried underground while they were searching for gold, local government officials said.
The victims were residents who had dug deep shafts in an area where Ethiopia's mining ministry had been searching for minerals.
"No mineral has been found from that place yet,” the local authorities explained.
According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ethiopia had secured 682 million U.S. dollars from the minerals and gemstones mining sectors during its 2020-2021 fiscal year, this was driven by gold, which is its largest share.
Artisanal miners are critical players in the country's gold mining sector in general. However, the conditions at which artisan miners operate remain an issue of concern.
In recent years, the East African country has undertaken a mass sensitization campaign to combat contraband mining activities that have been partly blamed for Ethiopia achieving low mining revenues in previous years.