February 16, 2019 4:35 pm

8 rescued, dozens more feared dead after Zimbabwe mine floods

WATCH: 8 found alive after flooding of Zimbabwe mine

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KADOMA, Zimbabwe — Eight subsistence miners who were trapped underground for several days after heavy flooding in Zimbabwe have been rescued, though dozens of their co-workers are still missing and feared dead.

Rescuers on Saturday pulled the exhausted, muddied survivors from the ground and took them to a tent for medical treatment. Relatives waiting at the scene ululated, cheered and hugged each other.

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Later came the retrieval of the dead. One by one the bodies were pulled from one of the tunnels in the gold fields, put in blue body bags and into a police truck which is transporting them to a tent for identification.

Dozens of the small-scale gold miners were caught underground Tuesday on the outskirts of Kadoma, west Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, when a dam wall collapsed and water rushed into the nearby mining tunnels.

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It is unclear how many miners remain trapped, but the government has said between 60 and 70 people were working underground at the time of the accident. The government has declared it a national disaster.

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Uniformed police, government workmen and artisanal miners, some of them wearing shorts, T-shirts and sandals, are working together in the retrieval operation using a hand-powered winch and ropes.

Ignoring a strong stench, some people broke through the police perimeter to catch a glimpse of the process, while others hoped to identify their friends and relatives.

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At least 20 bodies had been identified underground, while the search for more bodies continued, said Henrietta Rushwaya, the leader of Zimbabwe’s association of small scale miners.

A government statement Friday said that $200,000 is needed to complete the operation. Local head of the Civil Protection Unit Cecilia Chitiyo told reporters Saturday that “well-wishers” should donate body bags, masks, gloves, diesel fuel and other needed items.

 

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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