Heavy rains
 
Henry Shekifu, the regional commissioner of police for Manyara, the province where the affected mines are located, said: "The government is trying to get equipment to the mines to drain the water in hopes of retrieving the men.
 
"There have been heavy rains for the last seven days in the area. Similar cases occured in the past, but this is worse because it involves a lot of people," he said.
 
But Elia Fanuel, a miner who managed to escape the underground flooding, said he had little hope that survivors would be found.
 
"I know there is no hope of finding anybody alive. We will just look for the bodies to give them a decent burial," he said.
 
Hassan, one of the mine owners, said that five mines were flooded and that weather on Saturday had been even worse than on previous days.
 
"We saw floating bodies and we recovered two bodies by ourselves," he said.
 
A lack of equipment for the rescue operation has also hampered access to the trapped miners.
 
The Tanzanian government licenses the tanzanite mines but most miners work for themselves, normally using ropes to lower themselves into shafts dug by hand.

Safety fears
 
The mines amount to little more than holes hundreds of feet deep with few safety measures.
 
Tanzanite, a blue shimmering stone, is found only in northern Tanzania and the lure of striking riches has drawn thousands of miners to the area.
 
Tanzanian's mining sector has expanded rapidly over the past decade after it adopted liberal economic policies in the mid-1980s.
 
The east African nation is Africa's third-largest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana, and is also rich in diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
 
According to a development plan outlined by the government, the mining sector contributes less than three per cent of the nation's GDP but this rate is expected to reach 10 per cent by 2025.