Mine accident in Colombia

An estimated 180 million children worldwide are trapped in some of the worst forms of child labour. An accident at a Colombian gold mine focused attention on the plight of small children forced to work for a living in hazardous conditions. This report from ILO TV.

Date issued: 17 July 2002 | Size/duration: 00:02:40 (2.63 MB)

With a tenuous grip, the children of Irra, Colombia cross the river, not to work in the gold mines as they normally would, but to remember their friends who died recently in one of the worst mine accidents Latin America has seen for a long time.

Oscar Ladino, young miner

It was a catastrophe. Everybody began to scream as this wall of mud collapsed. All of a sudden, the only thing that you could hear was the silence...In seconds we knew that a lot of people had died.

When the outer wall of the El Pescadero mine fell, weakened by the heavy rains, some 80 people were entombed by the cascade of mud and stones. The bodies of at least 6 children lie alongside the adults, buried as they panned, toted and dug for gold.

Oscar Ladino, young miner

It was a catastrophe. Everybody began to scream as this wall of mud collapsed. All of a sudden, the only thing that you could hear was the silence...In seconds we knew that a lot of people had died.

When the outer wall of the El Pescadero mine fell, weakened by the heavy rains, some 80 people were entombed by the cascade of mud and stones. The bodies of at least 6 children lie alongside the adults, buried as they panned, toted and dug for gold.

When the outer wall of the El Pescadero mine fell, weakened by the heavy rains, some 80 people were entombed by the cascade of mud and stones. The bodies of at least 6 children lie alongside the adults, buried as they panned, toted and dug for gold.

Millions of children worldwide work, and every so often die, in the course of mining, making fireworks, and other physically hazardous work that the International Labour Organization calls the worst forms of child labour.

Millions of children worldwide work, and every so often die, in the course of mining, making fireworks, and other physically hazardous work that the International Labour Organization calls the worst forms of child labour.

Asha de Souza, ILO/IPEC expert on child labour

I think that these children were crushed not just by a mountain of earth but by the injustice that allows millions of children to risk their lives, to risk their health, to risk their childhoods and what do they get in return? A pittance.

9 year old Andres was lost in the accident. His mother Maria Castro had no alternative but to send him to the mines, for there are no schools in the region nor any decent jobs for adults.

Asha de Souza, ILO/IPEC expert on child labour

I think that these children were crushed not just by a mountain of earth but by the injustice that allows millions of children to risk their lives, to risk their health, to risk their childhoods and what do they get in return? A pittance.

9 year old Andres was lost in the accident. His mother Maria Castro had no alternative but to send him to the mines, for there are no schools in the region nor any decent jobs for adults.

9 year old Andres was lost in the accident. His mother Maria Castro had no alternative but to send him to the mines, for there are no schools in the region nor any decent jobs for adults.

The situation is no different for Jefferson, also 9. He started working in the mine at age 5. His childhood memories will be forever marked by what he saw.

The situation is no different for Jefferson, also 9. He started working in the mine at age 5. His childhood memories will be forever marked by what he saw.

Jefferson

I was so scared. I started to run and I saw a pile of dead bodies. One had the whole back of his skull broken open. When I looked closer, I realised it was my grandfather.

A rough cross marks the grave of Fanny Ospina's 7 year old son, also lost in the accident. Poverty cannot excuse the loss of such young lives says the ILO. Urgent action is needed to stop child labour in its most hazardous forms .

Jefferson

I was so scared. I started to run and I saw a pile of dead bodies. One had the whole back of his skull broken open. When I looked closer, I realised it was my grandfather.

A rough cross marks the grave of Fanny Ospina's 7 year old son, also lost in the accident. Poverty cannot excuse the loss of such young lives says the ILO. Urgent action is needed to stop child labour in its most hazardous forms .

A rough cross marks the grave of Fanny Ospina's 7 year old son, also lost in the accident. Poverty cannot excuse the loss of such young lives says the ILO. Urgent action is needed to stop child labour in its most hazardous forms .

Miguel Schapira, ILO TV

The accident in El Pescadero mine represents yet another accident involving working children. The young bodies lying under the mud are a constant and urgent reminder of the relentless struggle to eliminate child labour, not only here in Colombia, but all over the world.

Miguel Schapira, ILO TV

The accident in El Pescadero mine represents yet another accident involving working children. The young bodies lying under the mud are a constant and urgent reminder of the relentless struggle to eliminate child labour, not only here in Colombia, but all over the world.