Five Trapped Gold Miners Rescued After 41 Days Underground

Published: 24th November 2015 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2015 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

Five miners have been rescued in Tanzania after surviving for up to 41 days underground by eating cockroaches and frogs and drinking drips of muddy groundwater.

A total of 20 miners are thought to have been trapped on October 5 after their shaft filled with sand as they dug for gold in an abandoned mine in the northwestern Shinyanga region, some 500 miles west of Dar es Salaam.

Fourteen escaped but six others remained trapped. Five of them were brought out on Sunday dehydrated and thin but alive in what mining officials described as a "miracle". One other man was discovered dead.

Small-scale digging for gold in disused mines in remote areas of Tanzania is a common but dangerous occupation for impoverished bounty-hunters, who lack the tools to properly secure mine shafts. In April, 19 people were killed in the same area after a mine shaft collapsed.

The miners were discovered after others working nearby heard their cries and alerted the authorities, who had called off a previous operation to free them when the shaft first collapsed.

If they are confirmed as the same people who were trapped in October, they will join an illustrious few who have survived for more than a month underground.

In Chile, 33 miners were rescued after 69 days underground but they lived for the first 19 days on cans of tuna, milk and biscuits stored in their underground shelter and latterly from food sent down to them by rescuers on the surface.

Badra Masoud, a spokesman for Tanzania's Minister of Energy and Mines, said the "very weak" men were brought to the surface on Sunday and taken to hospital where they remain in serious condition. She confirmed that one man had died and said it was a "miracle" the others had survived.

Speaking to local media from their hospital beds, one described how they kept going despite the hunger and constant darkness.

Chacha Wambura told state-owned television they had been six in total. "We survived by eating cockroaches, frogs and other insects as well as drinking dirty water that seeped in from above," he said.

"Batteries of the torches and flashlights ran out and we ended up in a cave that we earlier used as a store for our tools," he added.

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