By Michael Magoronga
At least 12 suspected illegal gold miners have been trapped underground since Saturday night after a shaft collapsed at Peace Mine in Silobela.
Rescue efforts are expected to continue today and authorities said they had made contact with the miners who said they are still safe.
The miners are being supplied with oxygen through a tunnel.
Chronicle could not travel to the scene due to flooded roads.
Acting Kwekwe District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, Mr Clemence Muduma said they were hoping that by today, the miners would have been rescued.
“We are there on the ground and the community is working flat out. We are now able to communicate with those trapped and they assured us that they are still safe,” said Mr Muduma.
He said they were feeding oxygen into the tunnel since there were gases which might be dangerous.
Mr Muduma said they had suspended the use of an excavator since it might put the lives of the trapped in danger.
‘We decided not to use the excavator since it might harm the trapped but we hoping that by morning we will have rescued them,” he said.
Silobela MP Cde Mthokozisi Manoki Mpofu visited the mine yesterday.
“I am at Peace Mine as I speak to you. The miners were trapped after a shaft they were working on collapsed during the night,” said Cde Mpofu.
He said rescue efforts were being undertaken by fellow miners and members of the local community.
“Fellow miners and some members of the community are busy as we speak. They are trying to dig so that they rescue them. It is proving difficult but we keep trying,” said the MP.
He said he had organised an excavator to try and speed up the rescue mission.
The miners are believed to have entered the mine illegally with the assistance of security details who have reportedly vanished from the scene.
The MP said some miners were communicating with those underground.
“They said boulders keep falling and we fear for the worst. We are not yet sure as to how safe they are and we have to speed up the rescue mission,’ he said.
Last month a miner died at Jena Mines also in Silobela after the tunnel he was working in collapsed.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Miners Federation together with Environmental Management Agency issued statements warning miners to be cautious when carrying out their operations.
Late last month, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) warned illegal miners against engaging in panning activities as their shafts could collapse as the ground was unstable due to the rains.
Several gold panners have died since the start of the 2020/21 rain season following collapse of shafts due to heavy rains. The Chronicle.