Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
At least nine artisanal miners are feared dead after a mine shaft they were working in collapsed over the weekend.
The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon at Wonderer Mine where over 300 artisanal miners where reportedly working under ground when some shafts one of the oldest mines in Shurugwi started giving in.
When The Herald news crew visited the mine, hundreds of artisanal miners who escaped danger were still at the mine, trying to account for each other.
Officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development were also at the scene but ruled out any rescue possibilities.
By yesterday, at least nine artisanal miners were still unaccounted for.
“We are trying to map the way forward. But given the manner in which the mine collapsed, there is no way those who are underground could be rescued.
“The only option is to find ways of retrieving the bodies if there are any,” said an official who declined to be named, referring this reporter to provincial mines director Engineer Malcom Mazemo.
Eng Mazemo declined to comment.
“We don’t talk to the media on issues like this but our teams are still on the ground,” he said.
Some artisanal miners interviewed said some of their colleagues were missing.
“There were over 300 of us working underground in groups of seven or six. In my group we were seven but there are five of us still missing we don’t know what happened to them but they must have been trapped there,” said Mr Simon Ngazi one of the artisanal miners.
Mr Ngazi said they were working under a tunnel nicknamed “Wafa Wafa” when they realised the mine was collapsing. “It was so bad, some were falling and collapsing due to stampede and panic. Some were hit by boulders and I want to believe there are many people who are still trapped underground,” he said.
Another artisanal miner, Mr Fanuel Ndlovu, who sustained head injuries as they stampeded out of the mine said they were missing one of his group members.
“We were taking turns to blast so one of our colleagues who was blasting at the time of collapse is still missing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Miners Federation spokesperson, Mr Dosman Mangisi confirmed the development described the incident as unfortunate.
He urged artisanal miners to always make sure they adhere to safety measures before embarking on their mining activities. “It’s a said development. We have always emphasised safety whenever mining activities are being conducted. Now that it’s rainy season, miners, especially artisanal miners, should make sure that the mines they are working under are safe. They should make sure that these mines and their shafts have roof support.
They should also make sure that they put on safety regalia so that in case of emergency, life can be saved,” he said.