AFP – Jerada, Morocco – They call them “the mines of death”. In the neglected northern Moroccan mining city of Jerada, hundreds of people risk their lives every day to scrape a meagre living from perilous abandoned coal pits.
Last week, two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city. Abderrazak Daioui, who was with the brothers, narrowly escaped the same fate. “Houcine and Jedouane were just below me,” the 22-year-old said.
“One of them dug horizontally and hit a water well. We were flooded. I hung on my rope and managed to get back up. They weren’t so lucky.” Living in a modest, unfinished house, Abderrazak works to support his wife and daughter, his six brothers and his 80-year-old father – himself a former miner.
“There is no alternative, no work. That’s why I risk my life,” Abderrazak said. Earning as little as 100 dirhams ($11, nine euros) per day, he has worked in the mines for over three years.
He says he drinks “lots of milk” in a bid to counter the effects of the coal dust he inhales.The deaths of the two brothers, aged 23 and 30, sparked a wave of protests as residents accused the authorities of leaving them to their fate.
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