Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT yesterday completed the rescue mission at Nugget Gold Mine in Matobo, Matabeleland South province where five people died while four others were injured.
Rescuers concluded there are no more bodies underground and police have since cordoned off the area.
A tunnel at the mine collapsed on Monday following a gold rush which attracted nearly 1 000 fortune seekers after news spread that rich gold deposits had been found at the abandoned mine.
On Monday and Tuesday the rescue team retrieved five bodies and five miners, four of them who were injured when the tunnel collapsed and trapped them.
In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube said the rescue mission has been completed and the team that went underground had ascertained that there were no more bodies in the tunnel.
She said the mine is now a death trap and illegal miners should stay away from it.
“Nine miners were trapped when the tunnel collapsed resulting in the death of five and four others were injured. One miner was rescued unharmed. Nothing has changed from yesterday (Tuesday). We retrieved five bodies and five miners were rescued alive. Our search mission has been concluded and no one is still underground. Police have cordoned off the area because it has become a death trap,” said Ms Ncube.
She said they were looking forward to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development issuing a licence to an operator who can start legal operations at the mine.
“We are looking at sustainable solutions to this. We cannot have police always guarding the area as they have other duties. A registered miner should therefore take over as soon as possible to stop the illegal mining operations,” she said.
On Monday, Government officials that included the Provincial Affairs Minister for Matabeleland South, Cde Abednico Ncube, Ms Ncube, Provincial Mining Director Mr Tichaona Makuza, senior police and army officers visited the disaster scene.