Eight gold miners rescued in Zimbabwe – but dozens feared dead

Eight illegal gold miners have been pulled alive from flooded pits after being trapped underground for days in Zimbabwe.

Exhausted and muddied, they were quickly whisked away by rescuers as relatives at the scene cheered and hugged one another.

Zimbabwe has declared a national disaster after heavy rain caused a dam wall to collapse on Tuesday, with water rushing into nearby mining tunnels.

It is unclear how many miners remain trapped, but officials have estimated that up to 70 people were underground at the time.

According to the government’s deputy chief mining engineer, “it doesn’t seem likely” that there are any other survivors.

But Henrietta Rushwaya, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation, expressed hope of a miracle, saying: “We hope we will be able to retrieve all of the people in time.”

At least 22 bodies have been identified underground so far – and one by one, they have been pulled from tunnels, placed in body bags and taken to a tent.

Ignoring a strong stench, some friends and relatives have broken police lines in an attempt to identify their loved ones.

The disaster happened in Battlefields – a small settlement 110 miles west of Harare that is rich in gold deposits and popular with illegal miners.

The makeshift shafts and tunnels, some running as deep as 50m (164ft), can easily collapse in the rainy season when the ground is soft.

According to the Zimbabwean government, $200,000 (£155,000) is needed to complete the rescue effort – with a spokesman urging “well-wishers” to donate body bags, masks and gloves.

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