By Leopold Munhende in Battlefields
EIGHT artisanal miners who were trapped in a flooded mine tunnel in Battlefields since Tuesday, have been retrieved alive but looking traumatised by the ordeal.
Visibly exhausted, muddied and worn out, the survivors were saved this Saturday morning at around 7am following brisk efforts to drain water from the tunnels by mining firms working together with other artisanal miners familiar with the area since disaster struck Tuesday evening.
Some of their colleagues who were not caught in the tragedy were lowered into the shafts and retrieved their colleagues using a rope.
The seemingly dazed artisanal miners could not walk and had to be carried to a police tent pitched a few metres away from where they were rescued.
There was a moment of silence as relatives could not believe the miracle.
This was followed by wild scenes of jubilation with female relatives who had spent days since Tuesday cuddling in disbelief.
Efforts have since been shifted to searching for any survivors although Deputy Chief Government mining engineer Tapererwa Paswavaviri dismissed those chances.
“So far we have managed to rescue eight alive and directed all efforts towards searching for more survivors.
“We are yet to determine if there are any other survivors,” said Paswavaviri.
He added, “Indications are that some of the guys succumbed to gassing from their blasting operations; that was the major cause of fatalities.
“From their (survivors) accounts, it doesn’t seem likely (that there are survivors.”
Paswavaviri, who has managed to communicate with the surviving eight, explained how the others might have met their tragic end on Tuesday.
“When they saw rushing in, they moved to higher ground. It seems unfortunately, most of the other guys wanted to exit and that is where they met their fate.”
Crowds continue swelling in the mining area following the worst mine accident to befall the country in decades.
Local and international journalists have also descended on the area.
Government says up to 70 may have died from the tragedy while artisanal miners familiar with operations at Silver Moon and Cricket Mines where the tragedy occurred say deaths could have been over 100.
Source: New Zimbabwe