By Michelle Graff
Maseru, Lesotho—Eight workers returning home after a shift at the Kao Diamond Mine in Lesotho were killed and others seriously injured earlier this week when the bus that was transporting them overturned.

Storm Mountain Diamonds (SMD), which operates the mine, said in a statement issued Thursday that the accident happened Monday near Tlaeeng on the country’s A1 National Road.

The bus was carrying 35 passengers—SMD employees as well as employees of contractors—from the mine to their homes in the country’s lowlands region.

The driver lost control of the vehicle en route to the city of Botha Bothe, just a few kilometers from where the mine’s gravel road meets the main highway.

SMD and the police are investigating the cause of the accident, though it is believed that slippery road conditions created by a hail storm might have played a role.  

Seven people died at the scene.

One individual was airlifted to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Lesotho’s capital city, Maseru, but he succumbed to his injuries upon arrival.

Two employees who were seriously injured in the accident were also taken to Queen Mamohato hospital. The mining company said both are in a stable condition.

Others injured in the accident were treated at the clinic at Gem Diamonds’ Letšeng Diamond Mine, while three more employees were transported to a private healthcare facility in South Africa after being assessed overnight.

The company said it arranged for post-trauma professional counseling for employees who had no injuries before releasing them to return home.

It added, “SMD’s deepest condolences go out to the families of the deceased, and wishes those injured in the accident a speedy and complete recovery.”

In the statement, SMD thanked its employees, governmental authorities, health care professionals and all others who assisted at the scene and afterward.

It also expressed gratitude to the employees and management of Letšeng and Mothae, another nearby diamond mine in Lesotho operated by Lucapa Diamond Company. 

“The solidarity shown by the industry during difficult times is reassuring,” SMD said.

Known for its pink diamonds, the Kao Diamond Mine is located in Lesotho’s Butha Buthe District.

Namakwa Diamonds owns the mine in partnership with the country’s government and operates it through Storm Mountain Diamonds.

TAGS:   Mining
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