Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Child Coal Miners

Kyrgyzstan. For several weeks I climbed up into the Lager hills outside of Kokjongok and photographed the coal miners. The Soviet coal mines closed and since then miners have tunneled holes into the side of the mountain and picked out chunks of coal and brought it down the mountain in sacks on the backs of mules. Many of the miners were no more than twelve years old. One old miner told me that about a hundred and twenty miners work on the hill and each year about ten die. The day I made this photograph, it was spitting down snow and the narrow trail was mud. I was worried I would slip and fall off the edge of the mountain. Kokjongok was one of the most dangerous environments I had ever photographed.