Tanzania miners rescued after 41 days underground | News | DW | 17.11.2015
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Tanzania miners rescued after 41 days underground

Five workers from a Tanzanian gold mine survived more than a month deep underground after their mineshaft collapsed. The survivors have described the harrowing experience of being trapped so long in a dark cave.

Five gold miners were freed in Tanzania after spending 41 days trapped in a underground cave, officials announced on Tuesday. The survivors said they survived by eating insects and frogs and drinking the muddy water that trickled down from above.

The five were part of a group of around 20 workers in the mine in the northwestern Shinyanga region of Tanzania, 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of Dar es Salaam. When the shaft they were working n collapsed on October 5, 14 of the miners managed to scramble to safety while the other 6 remained.

"We survived by eating cockroaches, frogs and other insects as well as drinking dirty water that seeped in from above," survivor Chacha Wambura told Tanzanian television late on Monday. They took shelter in a chamber they had used for storing their tools and waited for help. Initially, they had the light from the helmet lamps and mobile phones to help them see - but they soon ran out of batteries.

Presumed dead

Originally, the workers were thought to have died in the collapse, but local police chief Justus Kamugisha told French news agency AFP other miners in a separate shaft began to hear voices coming from a neighboring tunnel.

"They heard voices of people calling out for help," Kamugisha said to AFP, "the men left the mines as they thought the voices were evil spirits, but they reported it to the local officials, and they remembered the miners who had been trapped some days earlier."

"We are still trying to locate the body of the dead miner, who is said to have died 15 days before the rescue operations," Kamugisha added.

Rescue efforts were launched on Saturday, in what the mining ministry called a "miracle" as officials expressed astonishment that the men could have survived so long so deep underground. Then men were finally brought up to the surface on Sunday, and are now recovering in a local hospital.

Gold is a major force for international trade in Tanzania, and the many small-scale independently owned mines often suffer collapses as the miners must use basic tools and are not really able to secure the deep and narrow shafts they make.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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