By Walter Nyamukondiwa and Fortunate Gora
At least 12 suspected illegal gold miners are feared dead after a mineshaft at Eldorado Mine in Chinhoyi collapsed on Monday evening.
Rescue efforts are underway with Government departments, including the Civil Protection Unit and the Red Cross Society of Zimbabwe having been activated.
Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara confirmed the mishap which occurred around 10pm on Monday.
By yesterday evening, at least five miners who had been trapped managed to escape.
“We have received reports that a mine shaft collapsed at Eldorado Mine just outside Chinhoyi, allegedly trapping some artisanal miners,” said Insp Mabgweazara.
“When the police visited the scene of the mishap, five artisanal miners had managed to escape, indicating that at least 12 other miners could still be trapped.”
Insp Mabgweazara said no deaths had been confirmed so far and investigations were in progress.
The Mines Inspectorate has also been roped in to assist with investigations and was by yesterday afternoon mobilising earth moving and rescue equipment.
A source from the Mines Inspectorate said: “Mines Inspectorate has been on the ground since morning. We managed to interview two witnesses who allegedly survived the collapse and they indicated that there are about 12 people who were trapped underground.
“The figure can only be confirmed once we manage to get people underground. We are currently working on mobilising the requisite equipment and resources to be able to go down and retrieve the bodies.”
The inspectorate was now working to establish electricity connection to operate the hoist needed to bring people to the surface.
Provincial Administrator Mrs Cecilia Chitiyo confirmed that the Mashonaland West provincial CPU had been activated.
“We have mobilised all the supporting groups such as Red Cross to render first aid service to those who may be retrieved alive before they are taken to the hospital,” she said.
Mrs Chitiyo said the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company had been engaged to provide adequate power supplies at the mine in support of the rescue effort.
Red Cross provincial manager Mr Amon Choba said a team had been deployed to render necessary assistance.