Blessings Chidakwa Herald Reporter
Eight people — including six foreigners — died at a mine in Mazowe following an explosion of gas cylinders in a blast furnace in two separate incidents on Wednesday and Thursday.
The eight include six Chinese and two Zimbabweans, with the Government yesterday sealing off the mine pending investigations.
One of the victims was burnt beyond recognition.
The blasts occurred at SAS Mine, Lowdale, under Mazowe Rural District Council where seven people, including six Chinese died on Thursday night with another miner having died the previous day.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the deaths saying: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police is investigating the circumstances in which six foreign nationals as well as two Zimbabweans died after some gas cylinders exploded at SAS Mine, Lowdale on October 7, 2021.”
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Polite Kambamura, and Mazowe South Member of Parliament Cde Fortune Chasi visited the site together with other Ministry of Mines officials who were conducting preliminary investigations.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said they ordered the temporary closure of the mine following the first incident on Wednesday to pave way for investigations.
“Unfortunately, the mine management defied that order and continued to work, leading to the loss of more lives on Thursday,” he said.
Cde Chasi said according to reports, a 21-year-old man died on Wednesday at the mine after an oxygen tank he was trying to open exploded.
“Unfortunately, yesterday another gas tank exploded killing six Chinese workers and one Zimbabwean worker. In total eight people died at the mine. The situation at the mine is tense and workers are traumatized by the event,” he said.
The Herald visited the mine and spoke to witnesses who narrated the horrific incidents.
It was all gloomy as workers were trying to come to terms with the tragic event, with body parts of the deceased being taken to a local mortuary.
The gate to the mine was locked with a number of security guards manning the area.
One of the workers who witnessed both incidents and asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the first victim who died was a youth who had just started work a few months ago.
“He had just married and his wife is pregnant. He went near the blast furnace around 6pm and in line with his everyday duties, he tried to open a gas bottle and it then exploded.
“We heard a loud sound and we are still in shock. We just saw some body parts strewn all over the place. It was quite scary for those of a nervous disposition as all his body parts were contained in a plastic bag,” said the worker.
Another worker said the death of the seven occurred the following day in almost a similar manner.
“Unfortunately on this fateful day, most workers including myself were defying orders to work. We were still traumatized by the death of our colleague the previous day.
“However, as fate would have it, some insisted that they wanted to go inside and work. Around 7pm while workers were changing shifts, we heard an unusual loud bang. Little did we know that more colleagues had perished,” said the worker.
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