23 illegal miners die in Zimbabwe mine

Illegal artisanal gold miners work at an open mine after occupying parts of Smithfield farm, owned by the former president Robert Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe, in Mazowe, Zimbabwe, on April 5, 2018.
Illegal artisanal gold miners work at an open mine after occupying parts of Smithfield farm, owned by the former president Robert Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe, in Mazowe, Zimbabwe, on April 5, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

HARARE (DPA) - Twenty-three illegal gold miners have been confirmed dead in Zimbabwe, the police said on Thursday (Feb 14).

The subsistence miners were killed when the mine's tunnels were flooded with water following the collapse of a dam wall in Battlefields, about 200km from Harare, on Tuesday.

"So far, twenty-three people have been confirmed dead and fears are that more miners could have perished," police spokesman Charity Charamba told dpa.

"Rescue efforts are being hampered by the rise in water levels in the shafts," she added.

The police said the miners had illegally entered the mine, owned by RioZim, under the cover of darkness when the accident occurred.

RioZim spokesman Wilson Gwatiringa told dpa that efforts were under way to pump out water so that the bodies could be retrieved.

"Most of the shafts are more than 20 metres deep and the water levels have been rising. We are currently in the process of pumping out water to rescue and search for more bodies," said Mr Gwatiringa.

Deaths of illegal miners in Zimbabwe are not uncommon. Last week, in neighbouring South Africa, at least five illegal miners died in a mine in Mpumalanga province.