A senior Government official has described the underground coal fires in Hwange as “a ticking atomic bomb” after a picture of a lava-like fire that cracked wide open a tarred road went viral on social media platforms.
George Charamba, the Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President, called on Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) to address the challenge as a matter of urgency. He tweeted:
Major disaster looming. I am told this is right in the middle of the road linking Number Three in Hwange.
This is similar to walking over a ticking atomic bomb. Hwange Colliery Company must act now.
An underground coal fire cut through the road that links Number Two (Madumabisa village) and Number Three (Makwika village) Hwange Colliery Company (HCC) concession areas.
The fires are now a threat to motorists, residents and wild animals, with several people having already suffered permanent injuries after falling into burning pits.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister Richard Moyo told NewsDay that he will engage EMA to carry out investigations so that the problem is addressed.
HCCL public relations manager Beauty Mutombe confirmed that indeed, an underground fire broke out and destroyed roads.
She said they will soon be releasing a statement for the benefit of the media and citizens.
On November 8 this year, 8-year-old girl Alisha Muzvite suffered serious burns after the ground around her gave way and fell into a raging fire.
She was ferried to Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital for medical attention but doctors could not save her life despite amputating both her legs.