Around 40 informal miners have been trapped underground in northeastern Zimbabwe after a shaft in a disused gold mine collapsed, the country’s miners’ federation said Thursday.
The disaster occurred late Wednesday in the town of Bindura, around 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of the capital Harare, said Wellington Takavarasha, head of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation.
AFP journalists witnessed rescuers pumping water out of a flooded main shaft hoping to open up a passageway to the miners.
“We understand there were some organized mining syndicates who were mining here,” Nathan Nkomo, director of the state rescue agency known as Civil Protection Unit, told AFP at the scene.
“After blasting some of the pillars, that is when the whole mine collapsed,” he said, adding that the exact “numbers are not yet established”.
Takavarasha told AFP that the miners were working inside the disused Ran Gold Mine when a shaft caved in.
Six miners have since been pulled out and taken to hospital.
“Those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident,” Takavarasha said.
Some were relatives, sitting under trees as they waited for updates from the authorities.
Funeral companies pitched tents at the site.
“I am waiting for my brother’s son who is trapped underground,” Patience Jacob said.
“The rescue team is assisting but I think they are not that effective… I doubt they will be retrieved alive,” she said.