Death toll from Zimbabwe gold mine collapse likely to rise to 13, vice president says

by MMC
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Zimbabwe’s vice president says death toll from shaft collapse at abandoned gold mine could rise to 13.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The death toll from a shaft collapse at an abandoned gold mine in Zimbabwe is expected to rise to 13, the vice president said, according to state media.

The official Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as saying: “We think we lost about 13 people” in the mining disaster, which occurred Friday in the gold mining town of Chegutu, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. 60 miles) west of the capital, Harare.

He said 21 of the 34 miners who were underground at the time of the collapse were rescued. Eight were confirmed dead, three bodies were removed from the mine and five were found but not yet removed, Chiwenga said.

The other five people were presumed dead.

Chiwenga was speaking at a meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party on Saturday, the Sunday Mail reported. Chiwenga said the collapse occurred at a disused German mine that had not been properly closed, allowing unofficial artisanal miners to navigate it to search for remaining deposits.

Incidents of mine collapses, often involving artisanal miners, are common in the southern African country rich in gold, coal and diamonds. Zimbabwe also has Africa’s largest reserves of lithium, a mineral in high demand globally due to its use in electric car batteries.

Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich national parks, abandoned mines, rivers and even towns are often overrun by people, including young children, searching for valuable deposits. It is one of the few economic activities still operating in a country that has experienced industry closures, a currency crisis and high unemployment over the past two decades.

Critics blame economic mismanagement and corruption for the collapse of a once-thriving economy and one of Africa’s strengths. The government highlights two decades of sanctions imposed by the United States over allegations of human rights abuses by the government.

Also on Friday, Indian businessman Harpal Randhawa and his son were among six people who died in a plane crash near another diamond mine, according to the same Sunday Times article. The small plane apparently belonged to the RioZim mining company in Randhawa. The crash killed everyone on board, according to the report.

RioZim was previously part of the Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto.

Chiwenga said Zimbabwean victims of the two tragedies would be given state-assisted funerals, while President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for a minute’s silence for those who died at the ruling party meeting.


AP Africa News:

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