Dozens of gold miners were left dead after heavy rains last Tuesday night destroyed a dam upstream and caused flooding in the mine shafts dotted around the Battlefields area near the town of Kadoma, south-west of the capital Harare.
32 bodies have now been retrieved from the shafts. It is reported that some of these gold miners were trapped 40m (130ft) underground since the accident happened on Tuesday night.
Hopes for the missing miners waned during the four days since flooding started, as rescuers had to pump out large amounts of water, slowing their progress.
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The government has declared the accident a national disaster. Speaking to Report Focus Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity Nick Mangwana said;
“Government condoles with the bereaved families in the Battlefields Disaster. We have mobilized expertise and equipment from the mining industry. The Ministry of Mines has been on the ground everyday dealing with the search and rescue efforts as well as recovery of the deceased. Government has also made available resources to assist the families to bury the stricken miners. Artisinal Miners have contributed a lot to us reaching 33 tonnes of gold last year and will remain a major contributor to our gold production. Government continues to support their contribution to the national gold reserves. We have made equipment and funding available and implores everyone to consider safety and operate within the law”
A total of 32 bodies were retrieved from the flooded mine with only 8 survivors. The survivors were taken to Kadoma General Hospital whilst the deceased were positively identified by their relatives despite their bodies being in a state of decomposing.