Five miners rescued in Tanzania after 41 days trapped underground

Five miners rescued in Tanzania after 41 days trapped underground

Great efforts to free children from the worst form of child labour have started paying off as Plan International Tanzania in collaboration with other stakeholders. (Image courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

Five miners have been rescued in Tanzania after surviving 41 days trapped underground by a landslide in a small-scale gold mine, but at least 12 others are still missing.

The group, who had gone underground to rescue 11 other miners when they became trapped, survived by eating roots, cockroaches and frogs, and drinking drips of muddy groundwater, Press TV reports.

The accident occurred in early October at Kahama district, Shinyanga region, near the licensed Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi gold mines, which are owned by Acacia Mining (LON:ACA), formerly African Barrick Gold.

This is one of the longest periods that miners have remained trapped underground. In Chile, 33 were rescued after 69 days in 2010, in a rescue operation that gained worldwide attention.

Tanzania, Africa's fourth-largest gold producer, is also rich in diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. But illegal mining has cost the life of many since the sector began booming with economic liberalization policies applied in the mid-1980s.

Before multinationals arrived in Tanzania, small-scale miners largely conducted the extraction of minerals in the country.

According to a 2013 report by the International Institute for Environment and Development, small-scale mining in the country employs 10 times more people than large-scale mining globally. And the areas where the artisanal gold miners work remain largely unregulated, with many using child labour.

Only in the last three year more than 12,000 children as young as eight have been rescued from the country’s small-scale gold mines, according to children's rights group Plan International.

An illegal gold mine collapsed in the same district in April killing 19 people.