Geita — Sighs of relief greeted the news of the dramatic rescue yesterday of 15 people who had been trapped in a collapsed mine in Geita district for four days.

Rescue teams and villagers around the RZ Goldmine where the disaster occurred on Thursday jubilated as the first of the survivors was pulled from the pit at 5am. They cheered more as the an ambulance rushed them to hospital.

By about 5.20am, the last of the 15 small scale miners was pulled out of the death trap. He was a Chinese national, the owner of the affected mine. All the victims were evidently weak and could not walk a metre from the hole through which they were pulled out. At least five of them, including the Chinese collapsed as soon as they sucked in the fresh air.

Rescue teams who battled bad weather and lack of proper equipment for most of the days ingeniously reached the victims who were 35 metres under the mining pit. Earlier on Saturday they managed to deliver, water and porridge as well as glucose to the survivors through a pipe. The survivors saluted the efforts that kept them alive.

The rescue mission was hailed by the government that also ordered a temporary closure of the mine until safety measures for the workers was ascertained.

Yesterday, the thankful 15 miners miners received first aid from Waja Hospital’s personnel before they were taken to Geita Regional Hospital for further treatment.

Speaking shortly after the completion of the rescue operation, the deputy minister for energy and minerals, Dr Medard Kalemani, commended the rescue team, which included small scale miners who were soaked in mud following the day and night operation.

Dr Kalemani said the mine would be closed for five days for authorities to assess safety of miners.

“We are not ready to risk lives of Tanzanians, so you should assess the situation here before allowing the owners of the mine to resume their activities,” he directed Commissioner of Minerals Ally Samaje who was at the site. The mine is located in Nyarugusu ward in Geita.

Narrating the incident, some of the survivors said if it weren’t for food and water supplied through a pipe, they wouldn’t be alive. One of the miners, Mr Mgalula Kayanda, said one of them was in a very bad shape by the time they received water and porridge.

“If it wasn’t for water and food, I don’t know if we would have made it…one of us couldn’t even speak,” said Mr Kayanda. Recalling the fateful day, he said, they entered the mine at around 10pm last Thursday, but power went off as soon as they started didding.

“When we received the news that the mine was collapsing, we were about 100 metres below the surface, so we climbed up fast and took refuge at some corner to wait for a miracle,” said Mr Kayanda.

For his part, Mr Jackson Lukas, said he had given up hope because the condition inside the collapsed mine was inhabitable.

The hope of finding the miners alive intensified on Saturday after they managed to send a written message in the evening through the pipe.

Rescue work started off slowly because it was only a group of artisanal miners doing the work. Another hurdle was that excavators failed to work due to boulder.

Members of rescue team had to resort to guessing their way in the ir search for the trapped miners. This was after the owners of the mine failed to produce the underground map.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

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