Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Floods ravage Hwange: 200 miners trapped underground

By Bianca Mlilo and Fairness Moyana

About 200 miners were trapped underground while equipment worth thousands of dollars was damaged at Makomo Resources coal mine following heavy floods that hit Hwange district yesterday.


Twenty one families and inmates at an Old People’s Home had to be evacuated to safety as floods raged through settlements that include the Hwange Colliery Company (HCCL) concession, Lwendulu village’s F-section and Cinderella.

Makomo Resources general manager Mr Samson Mabvira confirmed the flooding of the mine.

“Yes we received very heavy rains and I hear most parts of the mine have been affected. But I’m not on the ground right now so I don’t have much information,” he said.

Sources on the ground told The Chronicle that the offices were flooded as well as mine pits.

“The entrance to Makomo and the mine as a whole is flooded. People can’t get in or out and there are about 200 people trapped in the pits,” said a source who requested anonymity.

“The front-end loader also overturned and it must have been extensively damaged. Operations at the mine have stopped completely.”

The source said it would take seven or more days to drain the water from the pits before mining could resume.

It is suspected that about 3 780 tonnes of coal was affected by the floods. A tonne of coal at the mine costs $68 and Makomo produces about 180 000 tonnes of coal per month.

The rains which started pounding the town in the early hours of yesterday also flooded many houses in the different residential areas in the town.

Most road networks connecting the residential areas were flooded with most businesses failing to open on time as employees failed to get to work due to the heavy rains which only stopped at around 9AM.

Traffic along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway was also brought to a halt for about two hours as the Hwange Colliery Company’s fire brigade and some locals battled to remove some trees that fell onto the busy road as a result of the storm.

Colliery areas that were affected by the flooding include Lwendulu, Makwika and Cinderella villages.

The Roman Catholic Church has since provided shelter to some of the affected families.

Inmates at Badala Old People’s Home in Cinderella high-density suburb rushed to safety after parts of the home were partially submerged in water.

According to residents the floods were triggered by clogged storm drains as they have not been cleared for a long time.

“The flooding is as a result of these storm drains that have not been cleared for a long time,” said a resident who declined to be named.

A resident who identified herself as MaDube from F-section in Lwendulu village said her house was flooded.

“I’m still in shock after waking up to discover that my bed was surrounded by water. Most of my property particularly electrical gadgets have been damaged as a result of the flooding,” she said while busy removing her soaked clothes and blankets.

HCCL managing director, Mr Thomas Makore said they had evacuated the 21 families affected by the flooding and provided them with temporary accommodation while they fixed the drainage system.

He confirmed that property worth thousands of dollars had been destroyed following the flooding of houses.

“Most of the affected houses are located in low lying areas and the problem will be perennial so we need to find a permanent solution going forward,” said Mr Makore.

In a similar incident, members of a family in Matetsi were lucky to escape alive after a house they were sleeping in collapsed due to heavy rains.
Twenty one families and inmates at an Old People’s Home had to be evacuated to safety as floods raged through settlements that include the Hwange Colliery Company (HCCL) concession, Lwendulu village’s F-section and Cinderella.
The family has since appealed to well-wishers to assist two of its family members who are admitted to Victoria Falls hospital to go for X- ray after logs fell on their heads. The Chronicle
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