Rescued workers getting medical attention.

Geita — All the 15 miners who were trapped in a mine pit at Nyarugusu for four days and rushed to Geita Regional Hospital here on Sunday were discharged yesterday.

However, the record treatment speed seemed not to have pleased family members of some of the victims who found the treatment ‘too fast’, wishing they had stayed longer for more observation.

In less than 24 hours of their stay at the medical facility, the youthful survivors looked jubilant and cheerful, thanking the government and other humanitarian organisations for moving so fast to save their lives.

Meeting them as soon as they were discharged, the Geita Regional Commissioner (RC), Major General (retired) Ezekiel Kyunga, commended the hospital’s management for attending to the survivors, who cheated death as they faced starvation inside the 60-metre deep pit.

“We thank God that you are safe after the tragic incident that shocked us all. I am told you received very professional treatment to the point that you are now able to return home healthy once again. I take this opportunity to thank each and every one who participated in this rescue mission,” said the RC.

According to Maj. Gen. Kyunga, the government has already orderd a five-day closure of the mine, which is co-owned by a Chinese investor, RZ Union and a Tanzanian, Mr Ahmed Mbaraka, pending investigations on what could have been the real cause behind the accident and possible remedial measures.

The RC said the Nyarugusu Mine incident, which had the whole nation worried, has prompted the government to plan a crackdown on the state of operations by all small and medium mines in Geita Region as soon as possible.

He was quoting the directives issued by Deputy Energy and Minerals Minister, Dr Medard Kalemani, who visited the region following the Nyarugusu incident on Sunday.

Another tough action by the government will fall on mining investors in the region, who will now be required to offer reliable contractors to their workers, which, among others, will enable the enactment of clear clauses on compensation in case of occupational hazards in mining operations.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, one of the survivors, Mr Anicet Masanja, said they managed to survive for almost four days thanks to the rocky and ventilated chambers inside the pit that prevented sand from falling on them as they struggled to negotiate their way out.

“Had it not been for the structure of the pit and improved infrastructure, a different story would have been told today. Overall, we thank God for the miracle as well as efforts by the regional hospital and other rescue efforts to save our lives,” Mr Massing further said.

But while the miners were celebrating their discharge from hospital, some of their relatives were highly concerned that the discharge was fast-tracked.

They were of the view that they still needed more time for observation. Ms Rosemary Dismas, whose brother Cosmas Mussa, was involved in the mine tragedy, told the ‘Daily News’ that she was not involved in the consultations before discharging her relative from hospital, claiming that the cheerfulness showed by the victims was not genuine at all. She said the miners’ relatives have doubts that their boys were not fit enough to resume mining operations since they were still unfit – both emotionally and psychologically.

However, the claims and worries over the health status of the victims were refuted by the hospital’s Medical Officer In- Charge, Dr Brian Mawala and the Geita Regional Medical Officer, Dr Yusuf Kisala, who said they were confident before they reached to the decision to have the survivors discharged. Initially, according to him, the victims had suffered normal starvation and difficulty in breathing in the pit and did not accompany any physical injuries or trauma.

He said since they managed to get fresh air and later served with food while in the pit, they garnered enough strength to be put under observation, instead of being given full medical treatment.

“Clinically, they were in more or less stable condition upon arrival – hence putting them under observation and support treatment. We ask the relatives to be calm while victims undergo full recovery from the shock,” he pleaded.

But despite showing massive improvement, Dr Kisala said it was crucial that the survivors get complete rest for at least two weeks. Apart from Dr Kalemani, the Commissioner for Mines, Mr Ally Samaje, is also here and was scheduled to visit the Nyarugusu Mine site to check the situation and monitor the government directives on the matter.

Source: Tanzania Daily News


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