The search and rescue operations at Ran Mine in Bindura where at least 10 miners were trapped when a disused mine trench caved in on 25 November have been halted.
This comes after, the tunnel where water was pumped out collapsed. Efforts to rescue the 10 miners which started on the 26th of November following the arrival of mining experts and heavy equipment have been hampered by heavy rains.
Speaking during an interview with The Herald, Chief Government Engineer Michael Munodawafa confirmed that rescue operations at the mine had stopped after the tunnel collapsed.
“The area where we pumped out water collapsed and we are trying to find a better way of dealing with the situation due to the instability of the ground,” he said.
“This is an old mine and at the bottom, there is a deep void filled with water, in mining we call it an open stope. When the initial collapse happened, that is why water came up instead of going down. De-watering of the tunnel released the pressure and contributed to the continuous collapse.”
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo who visited Ran Mine on Saturday, revealed that following the collapse of the tunnel, the government has decided to take a relief approach instead.
“This tragedy was attended by several ministries, including the technical ministry of Mines and Mining Development, engineers, provincial and national civil protection unit,” he said.
Heavy rains have hampered efforts to rescue the trapped miners, only one body was retrieved from the mine. Meanwhile, one volunteer who was helping out with the rescue mission died after he was hit by a boulder and fell into the waterlogged tunnel.
“Our first mode of operation is to search and rescue. We lost one volunteer and we retrieved one person. The situation has gone worse because of the incessant rains and the ground has become sensitive and it is collapsing.
“Some of the families are here and we might move into the relief situation. We must move into the relief approach which includes a psycho-social understanding of what has happened and work with the families,” he said.