Rescue operation intensified for illegal miners trapped in open pit mudslide in Zambia

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The search is on for 25 informal miners in Zambia buried alive following a Collapsed Mine.

The miners were digging for copper ore at the Seseli open-pit mine in the copper-belt city of Chingola, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital, Lusaka, according to police. The landslides happened sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., police said.

Chingola District Commissioner Raphael Chumupi said at least 36 miners were buried in three separate tunnels while they were digging for copper ore illegally at the Seseli mine without the knowledge of the mine owner. Zambian government officials said more than 30 miners were trapped under the landslides but couldn’t give an exact number.

Frantic rescue operation were underway on Monday as Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and the Mines Safety Department collaborated to save the trapped miners.

Rescue operation were being hampered by poor terrain. Rescuers were trying to remove water from the holes where the miners had been trapped.

“Operation to help rescue the trapped miners is ongoing but the situation is very bad heavy rains have filled the pit,” said Mr. Chimupia leader of Chingola.

Reports indicate that seven miners were confirmed dead and more than 20 others were missing and presumed dead. No bodies had yet been retrieved after the landslides late on Thursday (November 30) night, police said. Many of the victims were believed to have drowned.

“We are saddened to hear about the tragic accident at a makeshift mine site in Chingola that has claimed many lives,” Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said in a post on his official Facebook page. “Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who died in the accident. We express gratitude to the rescuers and volunteers working tirelessly to reach those still trapped.”

Zambia is among the top 10 copper producers in the world. Chingola, a city in the country’s Copperbelt Province, has large open-pit copper mines surrounded by huge waste piles of rock and earth that have been dug out of the mines.

Informal mining in the country is common, where artisanal miners dig in search of minerals, often without proper safety procedures.

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