BY BLESSED MHLANGA
THE search and retrieval of trapped artisanal miners at Silver Moon and Cricket mines in Battlefields entered day five yesterday with 24 bodies recovered.
This follows the rescue of eight survivors on Saturday. At least 70 miners were believed to have been trapped underground when the two mines were flooded last week following a dam wall collapse upstream.
Mashonaland West provincial administrator and head of the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), Cecilia Chitiyo told NewsDay that work will continue until all tunnels have been cleared.
“We have recovered 24 bodies and rescued eight people. Currently, we are pumping out water so that our teams can go into other tunnels and find if there are still people underground,” she said.
The majority of the victims were from Silver Moon Mine, while four who are known to be trapped inside Cricket Mine are still unaccounted for.
Tarisai Zikiti, who was manning the pump station at Cricket Mine, said limited water pumping capacity had slowed down efforts to rescue the miners.
“We know that about four people went down the tunnel and we have not seen them. We still suspect that they could be trapped underground and if we don’t get another pump, we will take up to three weeks, but with additional equipment we could cut the number of days to two,” he said.
Rescuers, mainly artisanal miners, were finding it difficult to work owing to the shortage of equipment and protective clothing.
Zimbabwe Federation of Small-scale Miners president, Henrietta Rushwaya brought protective clothing for the rescuers, who worked four days non-stop at the site.
Chitiyo said government, which has declared the accident a national disaster, had so far released $1 000 for each affected family, with most of the money being used for body removal by funeral parlours.
Police released 23 names of the deceased who have so far been identified and have had their next of kin notified.
They are Moyana Bvunzawabaya, Tinashe Shanga, Andrew Mharadze, Norman Billion, John Mufakose, Thulani Sibanda, Jabulani Moyo, Kheith Muderedzi, Trynos Zindonye, Misheck
Muromba, Givemore Munyungeri, Winston Ziyambo, Tafadzwa Mubaiwa, Clever Takaindisa, Augustine Chindoza, David Martin, Wellington Kwari, Josias Muzadzi, Charles Jakopo, Libert Koke, Tinei Tembo, Tobias Takaendesa and Takunda