At least 38 miners in Zimbabwe are feared to have died after the flooding of two underground mines in a central town late on Tuesday.
The flooding, caused by heavy rains, led to the collapse of a dam wall at around 23:00 on Tuesday, leaving 34 miners trapped underground at Silver Moon Mine and another four at the Cricket Mine, The Herald reported.
Police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabweazara told ZBC News that civil protection teams have been tasked with draining water from the mines with heavy duty pumps, adding that the water levels in the two mines are still on the rise, further perpetuating fears of underground drownings.
According to an earlier EWN report, the underground shafts near Kadoma are said to be 30 metres deep and rich in gold.
Mashonaland West Provincial Administrator Cecilia Chitiyo confirmed the incident to The Herald and emphasised the need for pumps in order for search and rescue operations to take place.
“We urgently need to mobilise more pumps. As many as we can because the water levels are continuously rising from beneath and we are not sure if the miners had reached an aquifer below,” she told the Harare-based newspaper.
The Herald quoted Mhondoro-Ngezi district administrator Fortunate Muzulu as saying that the names of 23 trapped miners are known – 19 of them are reportedly trapped at the RioZim-owned mine while another four are at the other mine.
Muzulu, who visited the mines on Wednesday, said the odds of any survivors being rescued were slim.
The Associated Press reported that illegal mining has become rampant in Zimbabwe, and groups of men, women and children using picks, shovels and hoes are a common sight in the country’s mineral-rich fields. There are no safety standards and regulations for these artisanal miners.