A gold mine collapse in central Ghana killed 17 people Tuesday who were working illegally and had been told to leave by the operator.
The mine's operator had finished its work near the town of Kyekyewere and had returned to shut it down and carry out reclamation work when it found several people from the local community mining illegally.
They refused to leave when asked and, not long after, "the operator got information that the mine caved in and covered the people," police commander William Otu said.
More from GlobalPost: Chile mine collapses, traps miner 1000 feet underground
"The number of those trapped were 22," local government official Peter Owusu-Ashia said.
Officials found 16 bodies at the scene and one injured miner later died after six were rushed to the hospital for treatment.
Ghana is one of the world's top gold exporters. Many of its mines are operated by unlicensed and illegal outfits known locally as galamsey that tend to be funded by foreign speculators and criminals.
This is not the first time Ghana has faced a mining disaster. In 2010, an incident killed 32 people in the south of the country after heavy rains caused a mine to cave in.
The previous year, 18 people — including 14 women — were killed in one of Ghana's worst mining accidents. A 2007 cave-in killed a similar number of people at a mine west of Accra.
More from GlobalPost: Dead men working: The world's most dangerous jobs