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23 illegal Miners die in Zimbabwe mine

Twenty three illegal gold miners have been confirmed dead in Zimbabwe, Police said on Thursday.

The miners, operating at subsistence level, were killed when the mine tunnels were flooded with water, following the collapse of a dam wall in Battlefields, about 200 kilometres from Harare on Tuesday.

“So far, 23 people have been confirmed dead and fears are that more miners could have perished,’’ Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told dpa.

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“Rescue efforts are being hampered by the rise in water levels in the shafts,’’ she said.

The police said the miners had illegally entered the mine owned by RioZim, under the cover of darkness when the accident occurred.

RioZim spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa told dpa that efforts were under way to pump out water so that bodies could be retrieved.

“Most of the shafts are more than 20-metres deep and the water levels have been rising. We are currently in the process of pumping out water to rescue and search for more bodies,’’ Gwatiringa said.

Deaths of illegal miners in Zimbabwe are not uncommon.

Earlier in neighbouring South Africa, at least five illegal miners died in a mine in Mpumalanga province. (NAN)