RESCUE OPERATION CONTINUES FOR 14 TRAPPED MINERS IN TANZANIA

Rescue operation is continuing for 14 miners who were trapped after a gold mine collapsed in Tanzania's northeastern region of Geita, authorities said.

On Thursday, 14 people, including a Chinese national, were trapped inside the mine when its walls collapsed.

The Chinese-invested mine is in a remote area near Nyarugusu area on the western shores of Lake Victoria in Geita region.

Medard Kalemani, Tanzania's deputy minister for Energy and Minerals, suspended all mining activities for other mines which are close to the collapsed mine so that miners can team up in the rescue operations.

"We want all stakeholders in the mining sector in Geita to work as one team so that our colleagues who are trapped inside are rescued," the official said when he visited the affected mine site.

According to Kalemani, the rescue team involved experts from the nearby mines, including Geita Gold Mine (GGM).

"The rescue team now struggles to find a better way of providing the victims with food and water," he stressed.

"There is a big hope that all the trapped people were alive, that's why we're looking on better strategies that will make them get food for them to survive," the minister said.

Elias Kyunga, Geita Regional Commissioner, was optimistic that the trapped miners will be rescued. However, he declined to say the exact date when the operation will be successful.

Rescuers managed to insert an air pipe into the 35-metre-deep shaft, but failed to establish communication with the people inside, mining official Yahaya Semamba said.

"We are digging, but at the same time we are reinforcing the walls so as to prevent them from collapsing while the work is going on," he told newspaper The Citizen.

Relatives of those trapped inside gathered outside the mine and expressed concern for their loved ones.

"When [my husband] walked out of the house on Wednesday evening, I thought I would see him the next morning, but until 10 pm he was yet to return and I started to worry," said a tearful Neema Charles, whose husband was among those trapped.

Regional official Ezekiel Kyunga reportedly said the cause of the accident was not yet known, and urged people not to jump to conclusions.

The accident is the third in gold mines in the same region in seven years. In April 2010, 16 people were killed when the mine in which they were working collapsed, while in October 2015, one person was killed and five rescued.

Tanzania is Africa's fourth-largest gold producer after South Africa, Ghana and Mali, according to the East African country's Chamber of Minerals and Energy.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK