The Sunday News
Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
EIGHT gold miners have been rescued alive while 24 bodies have so far been recovered at the mining shafts at Cricket No 3 and Jongwe Mining Co-operative mines in Battlefields, Kadoma where an estimated 70 artisanals were believed to have been trapped underground after the mines were flooded by water.
In an interview yesterday, deputy chief mining engineer in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development who is overseeing the operation, Engineer Tapererwa Pasikwavaviri said the eight miners who were rescued yesterday morning were rushed to Kadoma General Hospital for a medical check-up after spending close to a week without food while partially submerged in water.
The survivors have been identified as Simon Mushonga, Darwin Madimutsa, Ronald Sabi, Tinashe Ndaruza, Washington Sizetore, Takudzwa Kabaya, Lovemark Kadzirange and Sinep Napulu.
“We managed to reach their working area underground and found them alive. This has given us hope that we can still rescue more. We hope that we find more people still alive. Those that have been rescued, their condition appears to be stable but they have been taken to hospital to be further examined before they can be discharged. We have been informed by those that we have so far rescued that some artisanal miners drowned. They said they encountered some bodies while they were underground,” he said.
Eng Pasikwavaviri said the rescue teams have also discovered 24 bodies underground that were retrieved late yesterday from the mine shafts.
Eng Pasikwavaviri said the rescue team was working on accessing other working areas and they were hopeful that more people could be still alive.
“There is a high likelihood that more people are still alive. We are making frantic efforts to ensure that we access other points. We are still de-watering the shafts and we hope that we will soon be able to access different working areas underground,” he said.
One of the survivors said they had spent four days without sleeping while they were submerged.
“The water was at the neck level and we could hardly breathe. We spent the four nights without food or sleeping. We had lost hope when the rescue team found us. We thought we would die,” he said.
President Mnangagwa on Friday declared the incident a State of Disaster, and Government has since been seized with resource mobilisation and funding burials for the deceased.
The artisanal miners were on Tuesday trapped underground by water following heavy rains that pounded the area during the night.
A number of stakeholders combined efforts and successfully pumped out some of the water from two interlinked tunnels.
The shafts were flooded after the collapse of a dam wall due to excessive rains received in the area.