Efforts to rescue five workers at Task Mine Syndicate in Chegutu, who have been trapped underground since Tuesday last week, when a shaft collapsed on them, have been scaled up.
There was no breakthrough on day eight of the ordeal yesterday, with relatives, friends and colleagues becoming more apprehensive over the safety of the trapped miners, who include two brothers, one of them a teenager working to raise money for school fees.
Constantino Dzinoreva, Crynos Nyamukanga (ages not given), Munashe Nyamukanga (17), Shingai Gwatidzo (20) and a fifth miner only identified as Charles, are believed to be still alive and rescue efforts are continuing.
Calls have been made for people to stop using social media to speculate on the fate of the trapped miners.
Yesterday, officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development scaled up rescue operations with timbering and the erection of supporting structures.
Chegutu district development coordinator and Civil Protection Unit head, Mr Tariro Tomu, said: “While we work on rescuing the trapped workers, people should use social media wisely as we are seeing speculative messages suggesting that the trapped workers are dead. People should let officials do their work.
“Teams have scaled up efforts to rescue the trapped five. We are also positive that the five will be found alive. The process might look as if it is taking long, but they are also careful not to injure the trapped workers.”
He spelt the need for small-scale and artisanal miners to observe proper mining standards to avoid injuries and loss of life.
An official from the Ministry of Mines Chinhoyi offices who requested anonymity told The Herald that efforts to rescue the five were progressing well and installation of supporting pillars was being done carefully.
A relative of the Nyamukanga brothers Tapiwa Danangwe said the trapped workers had on the Sunday before accident earned US$700 each and decided to work some extra days to raise enough money before returning to their village which is near the mining site in Chegutu Ward 22.
He said the five, who were manually lowered down to the 110-metre level, had also taken with them a few food items, water, torches and working tools.
“Munashe, the youngest, is still doing his secondary education and just like many teenagers from this area, was working to raise fees and to buy clothes,” he said.
Danagwe also said he was told by some of the artisanal workers that the cage which was lowering them had not reached the ground when the mine collapsed but was optimistic his brothers and the other three were alive as they had taken with them a few food items.
Apart from deploying rescue workers, Government showed concern at the highest level when the Minister of Mines and Mining Development visited the site last week to assess the situation on the ground.
Minister Chitando implored small scale and artisanal miners to exercise caution in their operations as cases of mine accidents leading to deaths and injuries were rife.
He said while many, particularly youths, were being employed through the gold mining sector, it was prudent for the workers to consider orderly and careful mining to avoid injuries and loss of life.