5 Tan­za­nian min­ers freed af­ter 41 days un­der­ground

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

DAR ES SALAAM: Five Tan­za­nian gold min­ers have been res­cued af­ter spend­ing 41 days trapped deep un­der­ground eat­ing cock­roaches and frogs to sur­vive, the min­ing min­istry and sur­vivors said yes­ter­day. The min­ers were among a group of around 20 that were in a pit when a shaft they were work­ing on col­lapsed on Oct 5. While 14 es­caped as the shaft col­lapsed, six were trapped. One of the min­ers died more than month-long in­car­cer­a­tion un­der­ground. The re­main­ing five were res­cued on Sun­day and are re­port­edly in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion in hos­pi­tal.

“The min­ers were very weak,” Min­is­ter of En­ergy and Mines spokes­woman Badra Ma­soud said, adding they had been trapped some 100 m un­der­ground. Sur­vivors have de­scribed the hor­ror of sur­viv­ing in the dark­ness for over a month so deep un­der­ground, shel­ter­ing in a cham­ber where they had stored their tools, eat­ing in­sects and sip­ping foul and muddy wa­ter to sur­vive. “We were around 20 in the pit that col­lapsed, some of our col­leagues made it out, but six re­mained trapped un­der­ground,” sur­vivor Chacha Wam­bura told state-owned tele­vi­sion late Mon­day. “We sur­vived by eat­ing cock­roaches, frogs and other in­sects as well as drink­ing dirty wa­ter that seeped in from above.”

‘A Mir­a­cle’

The lo­cal min­ers were dig­ging for gold in the north­west­ern Shinyanga re­gion, some 900 km west of the eco­nomic cap­i­tal Dar es Salaam, when the shaft col­lapsed be­hind them. Ini­tially they had the light from their hel­met lamps as well as from mo­bile phones, but they soon ran out. “Bat­ter­ies of the torches and flash­lights ran out and we ended up in a cave that we ear­lier used as a store for our tools,” Wam­bura said. Tan­za­nian news­pa­per The Cit­i­zen said the min­ing min­istry de­scribed the res­cue as “a mir­a­cle” while lo­cal of­fi­cials were ini­tially in dis­be­lief the min­ers could have been freed safely af­ter so long un­der­ground.

Lo­cal po­lice com­man­der Jus­tus Ka­mugisha told AFP that the min­ers were all be­lieved to have died in the col­lapse, but that other min­ers crawl­ing down a sep­a­rate shaft were star­tled to hear voices com­ing from the dark­ness. —AFP

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