A terrible tragedy happened on the outskirts of the capital of the Kyrgyzia republic, Bishkek, at one of the dumps. An avalanche of tons of garbage and ground trapped 30 people who were looking for the non-ferrous scrap metal in a deep trench.
A dump in Kyrgyzia is a place not only for homeless people. Thousands of people go there to try to make ends meet: the unemployed and those who do not have no source of income. Most often, they try to find non-ferrous scrap metal in the garbage piles. Tons of scrap used to be delivered to the dumps by industrial enterprises when the enterprises worked at their full capacity during the Soviet times.
People try to earn their living digging in the heaps of smelly garbage, but their income is far from being high. For example, the garbage diggers can obtain enough scrap metal to sell for 50-10 soms, which is equal to one or two dollars, and this is for about 12 hours of hard work.
The Bishkek dumps are not only visited not by the citizens of the republic’s capital; people from the Osha and Jalal-Abad regions of Kyrgyzia also go there. The level of unemployment in those southern regions is higher than in the north, and there are almost no opportunities to earn money there. Therefore, the citizens of the provinces go to the capital's dumps.
The garbage diggers try to make their hard work at least a bit easier, as sometimes they hire a bulldozer or an excavator. It was this machinery that killed thirty of them. This time, they dug a trench seven meters deep. Of course, they did not strengthen the walls of the trench and started working actively, chiselling and gouging the trench all over the place.
Thirty people descended into trench that day and started digging. All of a sudden, a thick upper layer of a garbage started sliding down right on their heads. Some people were lucky to avoid their death, as they had time to run out onto the surface. The rescue team that arrived at the site of the tragedy had to dig in the garbage all day and all night. They were working with their hands not to harm those who could be alive underneath. However, it was not possible to save everyone. Ten people were taken out of the trench dead. They were young, unemployed, and the fathers of large families.
Yury Razgulayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzia
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/14/34832.html