UNLICENSED gold miners who were trapped underground after the tunnel they were working in collapsed on Saturday night in Silobela, Midlands Province, have been rescued alive after spending 22 hours underground.
The miners had been trapped since Saturday night and were only rescued on Monday night after fellow miners and the community stepped in.
The miners periodically pumped oxygen into the tunnel, which probably saved the lives of the trapped miners.
Authorities confirmed that contrary to the previous estimated number of 12 miners, 14 miners were rescued from the pit at Peace Mine in Silobela.
Acting Kwekwe Civil Protection Unit Chairperson, (CPU) Mr Clemence Muduma said some of the rescued miners had been taken to hospital.
“All the miners, 14 of them are out and are safe. They have since been rescued. Some of them were taken to hospital for check-ups and were released,” said Muduma.
He said the community and fellow miners worked tirelessly to rescue their colleagues.
“We are so much grateful to the miners and the community at large who took turns to remove the barricade that had blocked the way for them to get out. They were finally rescued around 8pm on Monday after about 22 hours underground,” said Mr Muduma.
Rubble collapsed into the tunnel creating an approximately 20-metre barricade which barred the miners from getting out of the tunnel.
Mr Muduma said the CPU had urged the Ministry of Mines to sort out ownership wrangles that are persisting at the mine.
“We have urged the responsible ministry to quickly solve ownership wrangles at the mine so that people can be held accountable. As it is it is difficult to control miners at the mine since thy claim it is a community project,” he said.
Since the passing on of the Chairperson of the Silobela Community Ownership Trust, Mr Arther Nkiwane, which controlled operations at the mine miners have been gaining entrance willy nilly embarking on unsanctioned mining operations.
Silobela member of parliament, Mthokozisi Manoki-Mpofu said the mine should be closed until ownership issues were solved.
“We are saying that the mine be closed until relevant authorities resolve the ownership wrangles at the mine. We want proper organisation with safety measures, a single owner who will be responsible for the mine rather than miners getting in when they feel like,” said Manoki-Mpofu.
He warned miners against conducting mining operations during the time when above normal rains were being experienced across the country. 🔺