- September 20, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
Saturday was day twelve since the collapse of a shaft at Task Mining Syndicate in Chegutu that has seen five miners trapped underground.
Mining Zimbabwe team visited the mine site to assess the situation and progress being made to rescue the trapped miners.
We expected to see a hive of activity with “rescue services” present only to be greeted with sad faces and a group of concerned family members who had camped at the mine since the shaft collapsed.
We were introduced to one of the Mine leaders who said they are doing all they can to rescue their colleagues and he sent us to the mine manager.
Mr. Mudavanhu the mine manager took us on a tour of the accident site and explained in detail how the rescue operations were going.
Ten volunteers including Mudavanhu sunk another shaft close to the collapsed one and dug over 110m and are almost directly below the opening of the collapsed shaft. He said the volunteers have vowed to do all they can rescue their comrades and more manpower will speed up the process.
“We have managed to dig over 110metres going down and we are almost directly below the opening of the collapsed shaft. The job is overwhelming, if we could get more manpower the process will be much faster.” Mudavanhu said.
We then met family members of the trapped miners who had come from as far as Silobela and Mutare. It was a sombre atmosphere as relatives expressed their disappointment in how slow the whole process was progressing.
While they appreciated the Mines and Mining Development Minister’s visit with other leaders no assistance came after the Minister left.
“The Minister came and addressed us but did not give us a chance to express ourselves as we are the ones in pain. When he left there wasn’t any mention of how the situation was going to be handled. There hasn’t been any help or a single cent from the Ministry.” a family member said.
We asked if any machinery had been on-site to help speed up the rescue process and one of the family members said,
“We heard that the rescue operation can only be done manually because using machinery leads to further collapse”.
The families are of the view that the trapped miners can still be saved if the rescue team is incentivized. They said only “one shift” is conducting the rescue process and with the way, the rescuers are working only about four days of work out of the twelve days has been put-in. The rescue teams at one time took an eighteen-hour break.
“The guys conducting the rescue operation lack motivation (monetory) as they also need to support their families. Its only one shift working and with the way they are doing it out of the 12 days our children have been trapped underground only an equivalent of four days word has been put-in”.
The families said they were now numbering about 60 from 100 after others left. Due to their large numbers food was becoming a challenge. On Saturday they reportedly only had a single meal. Food donations are reported to have came from Edna Madzongwe the former President of the Senate of the Republic of Zimbabwe from 2005 to 2018 and a neighbouring miner.
The most difficult part was when trapped miner Constantino Dzinoreva’s sister expressed her disappointment with the news that Mines Officials were allegedly planning to seal off the mine and declare the collapsed area unsafe and rescue impossible.
“I am very disappointed and I am finding it difficult to comprehend. We hear they want to seal off the site and declare rescue is impossible after only 12 days. The rescue guys are still willing to go down to retrieve Constantino and his friends why are they even suggesting such. We have heard of miners in other countries getting rescued after much longer”.
The trapped Miners are Constantino Dzinoreva (47) based in Chegutu, Charles Mutume (31) Based in Zvimba, Shingai Gwatidzo (20) from Mhondoro and brothers Munashe Christian (17) and Crynos Nyamukanga (44) from Zvimba.
Mine collapse rescue operations elsewhere
Thirty-three men in were trapped 700 meters underground and 5 kilometres from the mine’s entrance via spiralling underground ramps, were rescued after 69 days. After the state-owned mining company, Codelco, took over rescue efforts from the mine’s owners, exploratory boreholes were drilled.
Wangjialing mine in Shanxi province was still under construction when floods, possibly caused by water leaks in the mine’s foundations that went unrepaired as workers were pushed to finish the mine by October 2010, trapped 153 miners underground on 28 March, as 108 fled to safety. The workers clipped themselves to the ceilings of the mine using their belts for three days before rescuers installed pumps that drained more than 11 million gallons of water a day from the mine.
When a magnitude 2.1 earthquake hit the Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania, one of the 17 miners working underground at the time died. The majority, 14, were able to escape to the surface, leaving two miners trapped in a lift. The workers survived for one week on a single cereal bar and licking moisture from the rocks before rescuers were able to give them food and water through a pipe drilled into the mine. They had to wait two weeks before rescue workers could reach them.
A group of coal miners at the Black Wolf-owned Quecreek mine in Pennsylvania accidentally dug into the neighbouring Saxman coal mine on 22 June, which had not seen commercial production since 1963. Breaking into the abandoned mine flooded the Quecreek operation with 283 905 883l of water that had built up in the older mine. While half of the 18 workers were able to escape to the surface, the remaining nine were trapped in the mine’s shafts and chambers. Rescue operations involved an experimental air pocket for the miners put forward by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) expert John Urosek, which successfully pumped oxygen into the chambers, as well as the use of diesel water pumps to remove 102 206l of water per minute from the mine.