Government seeks the help of locals in rescuing trapped miners

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Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Charles Kitwanga

Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Charles Kitwanga

The Deputy Minister announced the move at the weekend when he visited the mine site situated at Nyangalata area in the District where miners have for years been conducting small-scale mining.

According to Mr Kitwanga, who was speaking through a televised interview from the scene, government efforts to rescue the victims were almost proving futile as mining experts predict tough work in an attempting to save them.

?I have spoken to experts over this calamity and have informed me that it was difficult for the time being to rescue the victims, feared trapped underground. I, therefore, ask for anybody with traditional expertise to come out and rescue the situation,? he said.

Small-scale miners were reportedly trapped after a huge portion of sand collapsed on them as they were conducting gold mining activities where some managed to escape death while seven others failed to make it out of the pit. Reports have it that the 120-metre deep pit was reportedly accommodating about 20 at a time who mostly used poor mining equipment hence risking their lives.

Contacted for comment, the Shinyanga Regional Commissioner, Mr Ally Nassoro Rufunga, told the ?Daily News? yesterday that rescue efforts were going on amid controversy over the actual number of trapped miners.

?We have hired an excavator to try dig deeper in an attempt to trace them but the job seems difficult as the area is swampy. It appears the exercise will take longer to bear expected results,? he said.

Chairman of Jikomboe Group which is one of the groups formed by the small-scale miners at Nyangalata site, Mr Mussa Nyerere, appealed for technical and financial assistance from the government to enable the group undertake safe mining.

?We ask for assistance from the government so that we can save our colleagues, whom we believe are still alive in the pit and put enabling environment for safe mining in the future,? he said.

The incident was earlier confirmed by the Shinyanga Regional Police Commander, Mr Justus Kamugisha, who said the accident actually occurred last Monday. He said that the first incident occurred around 9am and the second at 12pm on the same day.

According to Commander Kamugisha, some of the victims could not respond when police were trying to call them through their mobile phones as they rang without being answered.

The out-going councillor for Lunguya Ward, where the mines are situated, Benedicto Manwari, told a section of the social media that 11 miners survived the accident and are admitted to Lunguya Health Centre.

By PIUS RUGONZIBWA, Tanzania Daily News

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