Hopes fade as five gold panners still trapped 7 days on

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

AUTHORITIES say there were still no signs of five artisanal miners, who were last Tuesday trapped after a 110-metre mine shaft they were working in collapsed.

Mashonaland West acting police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Ian Kohwera confirmed a rescue mission involving a multi-sectoral team had, up to this week Tuesday, failed to make meaningful headway towards rescuing the trapped miners, let alone finding them alive.

“The rescue efforts are still in progress but up to now, none of the trapped miners has been rescued,” said Kohwera Tuesday.

The incident happened at Task Mine in Chegutu at around 4:30pm.

The five panners were identified as Crynos Nyamukanga (age not given), Munashe Nyamukanga (17), Shingai Gwatidzo (20), Costantino Dzinoreva (age not given) and another only identified as Charles.

Sources close to the events told inspectors from the Mines Ministry were leading the rescue efforts with help from State security agencies, which include the air force and army.

Mines and Mining Development minister, Winston Chitando visited the site at the weekend and expressed grave concern over laxity in ensuring observance of safety protocols in the extraction of gold ore at the affected mine.

Sources also told the trapped panners could, by now, be dehydrated and weary due to hunger as they did not have any food at the time the shaft caved in.

Factors hampering the rescue mission include absence of underground plans since the shafts are being operated by artisanal miners, hence the need to have a proper ground survey.

All artisanal miners illegally prospecting in shafts surrounding the collapsed mine have since been cleared by police.

Efforts to get comment from the mine owner, Temson Musonza, and the Chegutu Civil Protection Unit (CPU) chairperson Tariro Tomu, were fruitless.