By Prince Kurupati
24 artisanal miners died recently in Zimbabwe after the mine they were in flooded following flash floods. The incident happened at Battlefields Mine in the town of Kadoma, about 140 kilometres from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.
According to The Herald, 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.” Report state that the underground shafts near Kadoma are said to be 30 meters deep and rich in gold.
During an interview Police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabweazara when the rescue operations were still in progress said that civil protection teams have been tasked with draining water from the mines with heavy duty pumps. With the rescue operations still in progress, Mashonaland West Provincial Administrator Cecilia Chitiyo said “We urgently need to mobilize 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.”
After mobilizing the heavy-duty pumps, the civil protection teams together with hundreds of relatives, community members and others cooperated in the rescue mission. They managed to drain some water and the teams were able to send people down the mine to see if they were any survivors. Nine survivors were rescued. BBC reports that they “survived by finding higher ground and waiting while up to their necks in water.” However, 24 others failed to make it. Speaking afterwards, Peter Haritatos, the deputy minister of lands, water and climate, and a Member of Parliament for the area said “Quite a huge amount of water came from the top and flooded into the shafts. In so doing, it trapped our brothers and sisters down there. They were unable to escape….at least families can positively identify the bodies that come up and have closure.”
The Zimbabwean government declared the Kadoma disaster a national disaster.
Most of those who were trapped (both survivors and the dead) were mostly under the age of 24. Due to high unemployment levels in the country reported to be over 90 percent, many young people resort to illegal gold mining in open disused shafts without proper safety equipment.
The names of the deceased are Thulani Sibanda (18) of Mbizo, Kwekwe, John Mufakose (29) of Gore village, Gokwe, Norman Billion (39) of Kadoma, Andrew Mharadze (26) of Mharadze village, Gokwe, Tinashe Shanda (22) of Mashinyira village, Gokwe, Givemore Munyengeri (42) of Plot 22 Silvermoon, Battlefields, Trynos Zindonye (31) of Hamandishe village, Gokwe, Clever Takaendesa (47) of Shurugwi, Tafadzwa Mubaiwa (22) Gonde village, Gokwe, Tinei Tembo (31) Plot 47 Silvermoon, Battlefields, Charles Jacob (25) of Jacopo village, Murehwa and David Martin (38) of Kadoma, Jabulani Moyo of Village 12A Donnain, Battlefields, Josias Muzadzi (45) of village, Zhombe, Liberty Koke (26) of Village 9A, Gokwe, Augustine Chindoza (39) Chizembo Village, Bikita, Wellington Kwari of Whaley Range Etina Mine, Kadoma, Takanda Mushore (27), Kwekwe, Tobias Takaendesa, Kadoma, Winston Muziribo (22) of Makombe Village, Gokwe, Mayana Bvunzawabaya (27) Gore Village, Gokwe, Misheck Ncube (30) Kapoto Village, Mudzi, Keith Muderedzi (31) Village 10, Kadoma and Eborn Kaseke (24) Matarutse of Marondera.