Authorities at SAS Mine, Lowdale, under Mazowe Rural District Council, defied an order by government officials to temporarily close the mine to allow investigations after a blast killed a worker on Wednesday.
The defiance resulted in another blast the following day leading to the death of six Chinese nationals and another Zimbabwean after some gas cylinders exploded.
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Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Polite Kambamura, who visited the site with Mazowe South Member of Parliament Fortune Chasi and other Ministry of Mines officials, said:
Unfortunately, the mine management defied that order [to cease operations temoprarily] and continued to work leading to the loss of more lives on Thursday.
Two separate blasts rocked the mine, the first one on Wednesday, killing one, and another blast occurred on Thursday, resulting in the death of six Chinese nationals and one Zimbabwe, bringing the total fatalities to eight. One of the victims was burnt beyond recognition.
Chasi said according to reports, a 21-year-old man died on Wednesday at the mine after an oxygen tank he was trying to open exploded.
One of the workers who witnessed both incidents and asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation told State media that the first victim who died was a youth who had just started work a few months ago. He said:
He had just married and his wife is pregnant. He went near the blast furnace around 6 pm and in line with his everyday duties, he tried to open a gas bottle and it then exploded.
We heard a loud sound and we are still in shock. We just saw some body parts strewn all over the place.
It was quite scary for those of a nervous disposition as all his body parts were contained in a plastic bag.
Another worker said the death of the seven occurred the following day in almost a similar manner. Said the worker:
Unfortunately on this fateful day, most workers including myself were defying orders to work. We were still traumatised by the death of our colleague the previous day.
However, as fate would have it, some insisted that they wanted to go inside and work. Around 7 pm while workers were changing shifts, we heard an unusual loud bang. Little did we know that more colleagues had perished.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the deaths saying:
The Zimbabwe Republic Police is investigating the circumstances in which six foreign nationals, as well as two Zimbabweans, died after some gas cylinders exploded at SAS Mine, Lowdale on October 7, 2021.