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Zimbabwe resumes retrieval of trapped miners

multiple fatality accident
mining

Zimbabwe has mobilized resources and has begun retrieving the bodies of at least 10 miners trapped underground in three collapsed mine shafts across the country, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said Monday.

He told Xinhua in a brief interview that the government had instructed the Department of Civil Protection to carry out the work after search and rescue efforts were stopped at the three mines several weeks ago due to underground flooding and safety concerns.

Zimbabwe has been plagued with mine disasters over the last few months, often resulting in death of scores of miners.

Since September, the country has recorded fatal accidents at three disused gold mines in Chegutu, Esigodini and Bindura, with some lucky to be rescued alive while several others remain trapped.

Search and rescue operations at the collapsed mine shafts, the latest which occurred on Nov. 26 at Bindura’s Ran mine, stalled on the recommendation of the government’s chief mining engineer Michael Munodawafa.

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However, Chitando said the government had resolved to carry out rescue work, as had been recommended by the parliamentary committee on mines and mining development.

He said there could be 10 trapped bodies in total at the three mines. “Rescue operations are underway in Esigodini, which are being coordinated by the Department of Civil Protection. There is also mobilization of resources which is taking place for Chegutu so by the 11th of January 2021 a lot of development would have taken place.”

“We will give progress on Ran mine once we get tangible facts to disclose,” the minister said.

Early this month, the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and mining development implored the mines minister to at least ensure that the bodies of all the trapped miners are retrieved and accorded a decent burial.

The committee urged the minister to ensure that the disused mines do not become grave sites, arguing that some of the collapsed mine shafts, around 60 meters deep, could be accessed for body retrieval. Enditem