Rescue teams save 15 workers trapped in mine

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By COLLINS OMULO
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By REHEMA MATOWO
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Fifteen people who have been trapped for four days in a collapsed mine in Geita District, Tanzania, have been rescued.

The RZ Goldmine collapsed on Thursday, January 25, burying them together with the owner of the mine, a Chinese national.

Rescue teams and villagers around the RZ Goldmine celebrated as the first of the survivors was pulled from the pit at 5am in the dramatic rescue operation with those rescued rushed to hospital by ambulance.

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 inhaled in the fresh air.

Speaking shortly after the completion of the rescue operation, Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Dr Medard Kalemani, commended the rescue team, while at the same time directing Commissioner of Minerals Ally Samaje to temporarily close the mine for five days to allow the authorities to assess safety concerns.

“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 said.

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, porridge and glucose to the survivors through a pipe.

The survivors saluted the efforts that kept them alive.

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

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

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

Narrating the incident, some of the survivors said if it were not for food and water supplied through a pipe, they would not 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 was not 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 digging.

“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,” narrated Mr Kayanda.

On his part, Mr Jackson Lukas, said he had given up hope because the condition inside the collapsed mine was not habitable.

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