Zimbabwe mourns, the bodies of 24 illegal gold miners have been recovered from flooded tunnels after a dam wall collapsed following heavy rain. The tragedy took place last week in a small settlement in Battlefields, 110 miles west of Harare, that is rich in gold deposits and popular with illegal miners.
Last week, up to 70 may have been trapped in the mine and the search near Kadoma continues, according to the official data. Zimbabwe’s government has declared a national disaster while the family of dozen miner are still raising the hope to see relatives back home. Previous mine disasters in other parts of Africa have cost the lives of numerous unauthorised miners.
The company that owns one of the mines, Rio Zimbabwe, says people entered the shafts illegally to look for gold. Illegal mining accounts for a large part of the country’s gold output.
Heavy rain made the rescue operation almost impossible
Eight people were rescued, all but one of whom have been discharged from a hospital. According to Henrietta Rushwaya, small-scale miners’ association leader, only 23 of the bodies had been identified so far. Meanwhile, the government’s deputy chief mining engineer confirmed “it doesn’t seem likely” that there are any other survivors after such a heavy rain.
The ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe makes people look for money everywhere, even on the illegal gold mines, such a work jeopardizes the life of workers but for them, there is no other way to make living for their families. After the recent wave of social protests on the streets, President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he will investigate reports of violence against demonstrators after the country’s human rights commission said they were “systematically tortured”.