Zimbabwe disused gold mines flood, many feared dead

A local administrator said the chances of survival were 'very slim' as miners remain trapped in flooded mine shafts.

    Some Zimbabweans have taken to 'illegal mining' in the many precious metal-rich deposits across the country [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]
    Some Zimbabweans have taken to 'illegal mining' in the many precious metal-rich deposits across the country [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

    At least 23 gold-miners are feared dead in Zimbabwe after water flooded two disused shafts in a mining town 145km south-west of the capital, Harare, on Thursday.

    Rescuers were considering deploying pumps to extract water to search for survivors and bodies at the site near the town of Kadoma.    

    "We heard from their colleagues that at least 23 people are trapped in the mine shaft which was flooded by water from a dam wall which burst due to heavy rains on Tuesday night," Wilson Gwatiringa, spokesman for mining company RioZim, the owner of one of the mines, told the AFP news agency.

    "One of them is our mine which was no longer in operation. We are assisting on humanitarian grounds."

    According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the other mine was privately owned.

    District administrator Fortunate Muzulu told the daily at least 23 people were trapped underground and that the "chances of rescuing any survivors are very slim".

    "The illegal miners entered the shafts at night to evade the owners," Muzulu said.

    Police would not confirm the incident, saying they were yet to receive a full report.

    Zimbabwe has valuable platinum, diamond, gold, coal and copper deposits.

    Mines account for a large portion of Zimbabwe's economy, which was projected to have grown 6.8 percent in 2018, according to government officials.

    Protests over rising living costs have erupted in the months following August elections. The demonstrations have been met with a crackdown that has killed at least a dozen people and injured hundreds more.

    Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for national dialogue to address concerns and promised to investigate alleged wrongdoing by security forces committed in the crackdown.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies