Freedom Mupanedemo and Michael Magoronga
Three artisanal miners were yesterday buried alive when a makeshift shade they were sleeping under collapsed into a mineshaft.
According to police, the three were sleeping under a plastic shade at Yellow Snake Mine on the outskirts of Kwekwe when the shaft underneath suddenly collapsed, resulting in the ground around the makeshift shade carving in.
Some artisanal miners then made a report at Kwekwe Central Police Station.
Acting chairperson of the Kwekwe District Civil Protection Unit, Mr Clemence Mudimu, confirmed the development yesterday, saying the police, army and other stakeholders had mobilised earthmoving machinery and were now on the ground.
“We are on the ground trying to work out something, but the mineshaft has been sealed off and no one knows the fate of these artisanal miners underground,” he said
By yesterday evening, rescue efforts were still continuing with over 50 people from the surrounding community gathering to map the way forward.
Excavators and other earthmoving machinery mobilised had ripped open the earth around the area, but the three were yet to be rescued.
“We managed to mobilise earth moving machinery by noon but we are now approaching sunset and the three have not been found so the chances that they are still alive are very slim,” he said
An artisanal miner who witnessed the incident, Tanaka Chikava said he was lucky to be alive as he was also sleeping in the same shade moments before the incident which happened when he had gone to relieve himself.
“It can only be God who saved me because I was also sleeping in that shade. I got out of the blankets at around 5.30 am and after about 10 minutes I returned to find the whole area collapsing.
Chikava said the incident occurred in a flash and his colleagues failed to escape to safety.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had to call our colleagues who were working in another shaft and we went to the police to make a report,” he said.