Search for trapped miners intensifies

A CHINESE mining company, Zhong Jian has intensified efforts to search for illegal gold miners suspected to be buried alive in Premier Estate area in Penhalonga with the company claiming the exercise was costing it thousands of dollars.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

The company told NewsDay yesterday that its staff was being stoned by locals almost on a daily basis, accused of burying the miners alive.

So far, two bodies have been recovered while several others are reportedly trapped in the pits that collapsed last weekend.

Zhong Jian general manager who identified himself as Xu said the search was costing the company hundreds of dollars.

“We came here on November 8, the following day, on November 9, we spoke with police who gave the illegal miners a two-day notice to vacate the area on November 11. Police told us they had given the miners a notice,” he said.

“On November 11, our company, together with the police gave an hour’s notice for illegal miners to leave the area.”

He added: “Every pit we filled up was confirmed by police, we have been always working with police. On November 13, someone called the police claiming that he had a relative who was trapped in the pits.

“Police then came to us asking for help to search for the bodies since we had the equipment, we helped the search and two bodies were found.

“We believe the other body was trapped for a long-time because it was in a state of decomposition.

“We have been searching the pits for days and this is now costing the company a lot of money, but, as a company, we are willing to help.”

But some locals have accused the company of burying the illegal miners alive.

Several bags and cellphones believed to belong to illegal miners were recovered from the mineshaft.

“Yes, police came and gave notice, but we think the company rushed to fill up the pits, they could have taken time, because in some instances, some miners did not hear about the notice as they were underground,” Thomas Muchaneta, one of the illegal miners said.

Another miner who only identified himself as Tuso added: “It is not clear if my friends were buried alive or they just used another exit to escape from the pits, but they left their phones charging and they are yet to take them, but I can’t name them at the moment.”

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