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Roundup: Death of two miners sparks mass protest in eastern Morocco

Xinhua,December 26, 2017 Adjust font size:

RABAT, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people protested in the eastern Moroccan city of Jerada on Monday over the death of two young men in coal mine.

The victims, two brothers aged 23 and 30, died on Friday while clandestinely digging in an abandoned mine, sparking a wave of anger in Jerada, which is long dependent on mining.

The wave of protest started on Friday with anger against what the families of the victims and local residents called "delay in the extraction of the two bodies from the well and the lack of adequate equipment of local rescue workers."

The Moroccan news site said the rescue operation took some 36 hours.

The protest grew in intensity over the weekend, reaching peak on Monday at the funeral of the two brothers.

A general strike was largely observed in the city, and thousands of people attended the funeral of the victims. Later in the day, protesters marched in the main streets of the city, demanding justice for the dead and improving the city's living conditions.

The city had grown around the flourishing mining activities since 1920s, but it suffered a major blow since late 1990s after the closure of coal mines that employed thousands of local people.

However, many local residents have continued illegal mining in the abandoned mines, while others moved to other cities looking for job opportunities.

According to news site, up to 3,000 people work in clandestine mining in the city, extracting some hundreds of tons of coal every day.

Speaking in parliamentary session, the Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani said an investigation has been opened in the case, expressing his readiness to meet Jerada parliamentarians.

During the same session, lawmakers called for stopping clandestine digging and urged the government to shoulder its responsibilities for ensuring decent living conditions for all the people. Enditem