MAC: Mines and Communities

Zimbabwe mining disaster:50 feared death

Published by MAC on 2019-02-15
Source: The Herald (Harare) (2019-02-15)

Flooding once again held to blame

In a disaster with tragic aspects of that in Meghalaya [see: Meghalaya mine murders ], even more men are feared dead in Zimbabwe  after being swept down rain-drenched shafts and tunnels in a mine owned by RioZim, formerly a subsidiary of Rio Tinto.

Zimbabwe: More Feared Dead in Battlefields Disaster

Casualties rise to 50.

By Walter Nyamukondiwa and Blessings Chidakwa

The Herald (Harare)

15 February 2019

Casualties in the Battlefields mine disaster near Kadoma could rise to 50
from the initial 23 reported yesterday, amid indications that more bodies
could have been washed down shafts and tunnels that were flooded on
Tuesday night.

Various mining companies from Mashonaland West Province -- including
Zimplats, RioZim and small-scale miners -- joined the Civil Protection
Unit (CPU) in marshalling water pumping machinery to drain the flooded
mines.

The victims are believed to be trapped in seven pits with depths of up to
100 metres and the tunnels have to be cleared of water before the recovery
of bodies can begin.

Many illegal miners had reportedly entered the shafts at Cricket and
Bazter mines on Tuesday night before the mines were flooded after rains
that pounded the area.

Deputy chief mines inspector Mr Tapererwa Paskwavaviri said the
commencement of the retrieval process depended on the size of pumps
available.

"We were able to cover at least seven metres in 15 hours using the four
pumps that we got from individual miners with a combined pumping capacity
of 55 horsepower. The pumping was at a rate of about 30 cubic metres of
water per second," he said.

"That would have taken us about five days to draw water out of the pits
but with the coming in of heavy equipment from Zimplats and RioZim, we
expect the time to be significantly reduced."

A supervisor at one of the pits at Cricket Mine, Mr Alex Mbudzi, said he
recorded 23 people who entered the pit on the fateful night.

He, however, said more illegal miners entered the shafts without
permission, raising fears that more people could have perished. Mr Mbudzi
ruled out chances of people being found alive.

"There were heavy rains on Tuesday night from around 10pm. However, we did
not expect anything bad to happen, but suddenly we found out that water
was getting into our cabin while pits were submerged in water," he said.

A worker at Baxter Mine, Mr Enock Madamombe, said he woke up to find
himself immersed in water while sleeping in a cabin before he went to
higher ground.

"We had not started work, but the four who entered the mine forced their
way in. No one managed to come out of the pit.

"We had diverted water so that it does not affect our operations but the
water was too powerful and destroyed the barriers we had put up," he said.

Mrs Eunica Zvitiki, whose son Xavier Chitiki was trapped, had lost hope
that her son would be found alive.

"I know people are saying there is hope that Xavier would be found alive
but from what I am seeing and the level of water I saw, there is little
chance of that happening. I am preparing for the worst," she said.

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