Illegal miner killed in rescue operation File picture

Freedom Mupanedemo and Conrad Mupesa

An illegal gold miner died on the spot after his stomach was ripped open by an excavator, as the operator tried to rescue him by removing rubble which had trapped him following a mine shaft collapse.

Zvishavane police said Tafadzwa Chirinda and his two unidentified colleagues were conducting illegal mining activities at Montello Mine on the outskirts of the town when the mine shaft collapsed, trapping them on Wednesday morning.

“His other colleagues then made a report to the police at Zvishavane Police Station. Police and other stakeholders mobilised an excavator to try and rescue Chirinda,” said a police officer at the scene.

The police officer said the excavator was brought to the scene five hours after the mishap.

“The excavator ripped open the now deceased’s tummy during the process of removing the rubble,” he said. “We are not sure about the fate of the other two miners.”

A witness, Mr Promise Mariba, said they had to seek the services of an excavator after they failed to rescue the trio using picks and shovels.

“The shaft was not all that deep, so initially we tried to save our colleagues using shovels, but we failed,” he said.

“The excavator, which was later made available, came after some hours and as its operator was removing some rubble, the machine ripped open Chirinda’s tummy.”

Midlands provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko, said he was still to get more details on the matter.

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