HARARE – At least eight miners have been rescued after being trapped for four days inside two gold mines located in central Zimbabwe, official sources said Saturday.
Nearly 70 miners were reportedly inside the two mines when a dam wall broke and flooded the shafts of two gold mines – one of which belongs to RioZim – on Tuesday night following a period of heavy rain, trapping dozens of miners who were working illegally.
“Eight miners have been rescued following the Kadoma mine disaster where suspected scores of miners lost their lives on Wednesday this week,” the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.
A short video showing the first two miners, shocked and with clothes covered in mud, being rescued and carried to the surface by a rescue team, was broadcast by ZBC.
“The eight rescued have since received medical attention, are in a stable condition and have been ferried to the hospital,” the source said. “Efforts to retrieve the bodies of those who succumbed to carbon monoxide and gassing are underway.”
The mines of Silver Moon and Cricket are located in the Battlefields district, near the central gold-mining town of Kadoma.
The two mines feature three connected shafts that were 230 meters (754.5 feet) in depth and 30-meter-deep tunnels, where other miners were thought to be trapped.
The African country’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday declared the tragedy as “a state of disaster,” which means the victims’ families are to be handed financial assistance to help bury the deceased.
On Feb. 14, local authorities announced that at least 23 miners were feared dead, but the unexpected rescue of eight people revived hopes of finding more miners alive.
The recovery operations were being carried out by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, a spokesperson for RioZim, Wilson Gwatiringa, was cited local media as saying.
RioZim earlier this month suspended operations at its three active gold mines because the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government has not been able to pay for gold deliveries made to the state-run refinery.
Due to Zimbabwe’s long-running economic problems and the high unemployment rate, many people risk their lives down mines.
Small-scale miners produced more than half of the more than 30 tons of gold produced last year.