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Nine Perish In Chegutu Mine Disaster, 8 Still Trapped!

Nine miners were confirmed dead yesterday and hopes were fading for 8 others trapped underground after a gold mine in Chegutu collapsed on Friday.

Rescue efforts were still underway last night at Bay Horse Mine in the Chakari area and bodies were being retrieved from a depth of 150 meters.

Mashonaland West provincial development coordinator Josphat Jaji said records showed that 42 miners had registered to go underground on Friday night and 13 managed to come out after the shaft collapsed while eight were rescued yesterday.

“So far rescuers have retrieved three bodies from the mine, but according to the figures at least 18 people are still missing after the accident,” Jaji said

“Rescue operations are still continuing at the mine and we are also watching if there were some unregistered miners, who entered the mine illegally.”

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Jaji said a provincial civil protection committee had set up base at the mine as rescue operations continue.

The rescue operations were yesterday slowed down by a power cut as fears grew that the shaft would continue to give in.

Mines and Mining Development minister Soda Zhemu visited the mine yesterday and was at the site when electricity was switched off during the rescue operations.

The power outage, which lasted a few minutes, frustrated rescue operations and there were indications that a rock inside the shaft was making the exercise complicated.

Husain Phiri, who is leading the rescue mission, said the rock was also holding the shaft wall from collapsing and they could not do any blasting,

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“The challenge we are facing is that the rock keeps moving, plus the hang wall keeps collapsing when the rock moves,” Phiri said.

“The way in which the mine collapsed destroyed all pillars that can make the shaft to be easily accessible.

“The mine collapsed from the top falling towards where people work, hence trapping people inside.

“We can see the bodies that are currently crushed by the rock.

“We have managed to count six bodies. “We expect the number to reach nine to account for everyone in total.”

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The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) said it was investigating the mine accident.

“There has been a collapse of a mine shaft at one of our ZMF members’ mine,” said the miners group in a statement.

“We have since tasked our ZMF secretary general and Chegutu Miners Association chairman to go and establish the true facts on the ground and we shall keep you upraised of the rescue operations by the relevant teams.”

The mine is not far from Cricket Mine in Battlefields, Mashonaland West, where 23 illegal gold miners perished in 2019 after another mine accident.

Incidents of mine collapses, often involving artisanal miners, are common in Zimbabwe, which is rich in minerals such as gold and diamonds.

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