The dead bodies of four out of eight missing miners have been found at a zinc mine in Burkina Faso that flooded more than two months ago, the government confirmed in a statement.
The Perkoa mine – owned by Canadian firm, Trevali Mining Corp, and located some 120km (75 miles) west of the capital, Ouagadougou – was abruptly submerged on April 16, 2022 after torrential rain fell unexpectedly during the country’s dry season.
In a statement on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Burkinabe government spokesman, Lionel Bilgo confirmed the discovery of the four bodies.
“Unfortunately, after 39 days of intense research, the lifeless bodies of four miners were found,” he said. Search teams are still looking for the other four, the statement added. Meanwhile, Trevali also confirmed the discovery of the four bodies of the missing miners.
In the statement, the government sent its condolences to the families of the victims and to the local communities as the search operations continue for the other four missing miners.
Both the company and the government have launched investigations into the causes of the incident. Six of the missing men are Burkina Faso nationals, one is from Tanzania and another from Zambia.
Hopes of finding the men alive dashed
The search operations started on the 21st April, 2022, five days after the Perkoa zinc mine was flooded. Since then, rescuers have worked tirelessly to pump some 165 million litres of water from the flooded chambers.
It took the rescue team 31 days to reach the first rescue chamber, located at about 570m- in which the missing miners might have sought refuge from the floodwaters.
On May 17, hopes that the missing men might have found refuge in a chamber in the mine were dashed when rescue workers found no one after reaching the room, which was stocked with food and water and located approximately 570 metres (1,870 feet) below ground.
A second chamber is located right at the bottom of the 710m mine.
“We hope the colleagues were able to access it. There were 8 of them – we don’t know if all 8 were able to get in, but we hope to find alive those who were able to get in. So, we are working to pump the water out quickly enough to reach that level”.Palenfo Moussa, Director of Nantou Mining
“Because this is the last hope. This is the only place where we can hope to find people. The best thing is to move quickly, to see what’s inside. We’ll be very happy to find our colleagues”, Moussa stressed last week.
With four of the men now found dead, most of the indigenes have lost hope that the remaining four will be found alive. The statement however, did not confirm which of countries the four men found dead come from.
At least four mining companies are involved in the pumping work. According to a local union representative, shelters inside the mine can withstand certain living conditions for a fortnight such as water and oxygen, food however, remains an issue.
Since the floodwaters also damaged the electricity and communication systems in the mine, contact with the miners could not be established. The families of the miners have already appealed for international help.
The water is being pumped out with electric pumps brought from Ghana and South Africa by the Canadian company, Nantou Mining, which operates the mine. However, visibility remains an issue for the search and rescue team.
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