NINE people have been confirmed dead following the collapse of a mining shaft at Bay Horse Mine in Chakari, Chegutu, according to officials.
The mine, owned by Tendai Sigauke, collapsed on Friday morning while 34 miners were underground.
According to Mines minister Soda Zhemu, a total of 13 miners managed to escape unhurt immediately while eight were rescued on Friday night.
Despite indications that retrieving the remaining bodies is almost impossible, Zhemu said they are hoping for the best.
“Some big minds have been approached and they are in the process of providing assistance … not only that, we have also managed to come and also give assistance.
“A variety of stakeholders have come to this place to also see how best they can give assistance.
“It’s a very difficult thing to respond to the question whether it will be easy or difficult to remove those trapped. It all depends with the people that have gone underground. But from the report that they gave, it shows that about 100 metres by 20 metres is what actually collapsed in. It requires removal of the boulders that have just closed the way.
“So at this point, I wouldn’t be very certain to say it is going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult unless a report has been provided,” said the minister.
Giving an update ont the situation underground, Bay Horse mine blasting engineer Hussein Phiri said they are finding it difficult to get to some of the bodies.
“We could clearly count six bodies but it is difficult to get to them because that side is still collapsing.
“What is making it more difficult is that there is a boulder above them and we have to get through to reach them.
“The boulder has to be removed but we fear that the moment we move it the mine will also collapse on us,” he said.
He added: “We are expecting to retrieve six bodies, but we have not located three miners, so we have to keep searching.
“We will do the best but the challenge is that the mine is still collapsing,” he said.
Phiri said they are convinced that all miners located are dead.
“They are all dead. We haven’t managed to reach them but we could see they are dead,” he said.
Most of the mine workers who were interviewed said there are no safety measures at the mine.
“This is a registered mine, but the owner has not been following safety measured as provided for by the laws.
“There are no pillars to support the ground and we were at risk because the shaft is open like a playing ground with nothing to support it.
“We asked him to solve this problem but our requests fell on deaf ears,” said a miner who only identified himself as Tawanda.
Over a thousand mourners, including families of the victims, were at the site waiting to identify bodies of their loved ones.
The minister also stayed at the mine for the rest of the day as rescuers made efforts to retrieve those who are trapped. — STAFF WRITER.