NTUNGAMO – A mining tunnel collapsed in Ntungamo District on Wednesday morning, trapping 11 miners.
The incident occurred in Mwerasandhu tin mines in Rwamwire, Ruhaama County, in that is managed by Zanak Holdings Limited, a German company.
Ten of the miners were rescued in the first hour of the tunnel’s collapse while the last one, identified as Jameson Jameson, was rescued about four hours later.
Mr John Marini, who survived the accident, said he ran away when rocks started falling.
“We were mining but as we approached the hard part where we expected some minerals, the soils started falling. Rocks fell on us and those who were behind us ran out. Some were trapped but some managed to escape. I was also caught up,” Mr Marini said.
The mines manager, Mr Moses Serunjogi, said there have been various accidents in the mines, with some claiming lives but that they have internal rescue mechanisms.
“We don’t call in police until we rescue our people. We normally call them after the rescue to make reports. This is because when police officers arrive, miners do not work to rescue their colleagues and leave it to the police yet officers can’t access the narrow tunnels with their gargets,” Mr Sserunjogi explained.
The mines were closed last week after miners went on strike, protesting poor working conditions.
The miners also blame Zanak Holdings Ltd for setting low prices for tin. A kilogramme of tin goes for between Shs1,4000 and 28,000.
However, management reopened the mines on Tuesday after registering most of the miners, imposing structural adjustments as well as boosting security.
“We have had challenges with administration of the mines of recent and we are in process of streamlining things. What we did not expect is that such accident would happen at the time when we are deep into these challenges,” Mr Sserunjogi explained.
There have been at least 15 accidents in the mines in the past two years, claiming 13 lives with three bodies not recovered.