Lusaka – A miner has been pulled out alive from under a mudslide five days after being trapped underground with many others when torrential rains hit Zambia’s main copperbelt region, authorities said on Wednesday.
The bodies of two more workers were also retrieved from the open-cast pit in the Chingola region, around 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Lusaka, Zambia’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) said.
“A 49-year-old man has been rescued from the collapsed mine slug damp site,” the unit said in a statement on Facebook.
The government initially said at least 30 people were trapped when a torrent of mud hit the mine on Friday.
No definitive figure has been given however for what Vice President Mutale Nalumango has called a “disaster” at the Sesili open-cast mines.
But state radio quoted Copperbelt Province Minister Elisha Matambo as saying on Wednesday that the number of families claiming missing members has risen to 38.
The survivor, identified as Mwanshe Mukoko, from Chingola, was pulled from under the rubble on Tuesday night and taken to a hospital.
“We heard a voice calling for help,” local government official Daniel Kamenga, who was part of the rescue efforts, told national radio broadcaster ZNBC.
“It was then that we knew there was somebody alive, that is when we started following it up.”
Search and rescue operations are still under way at the mine.
President Hakainde Hichilema on Tuesday told the country it “should not mourn yet” as authorities were committed to doing “everything to save” those trapped.
Photos posted online by the DMMU showed rescue workers and military personnel huddled around an opening in the mud-strewn, steep mine pit, as others carried a stretcher.
Zambia is one of the world’s largest copper producers and Chingola is in the country’s Copperbelt Province and a hotbed of illegal open-pit mining. Deadly accidents are frequent.
The region has one of the world’s largest open-cast copper mines and some of the waste piles reach up to 100 metres (300 feet) in height.
Compiled by Betha Madhomu