Pupils injured in Zimbabwe when classroom collapses into illegal mining shaft
At least 18 primary school children were injured in Kwekwe, in Zimbabwe's Midlands province, when their classroom collapsed into an illegal mining shaft.
Globe and Phoenix Primary School is close to two gold mines and illegal gold panners had tunnelled under the school to extract the metal.
Pupils, desks and chairs were swallowed up into the illegal mining shaft on Thursday morning. Some pupils escaped through windows as the classroom caved in.
The injured pupils aged between 10 and 11 have been treated and discharged from Kwekwe General Hospital.
Kwekwe Central MP Judith Tobaiwa, who visited the school, said there had been warning signs.
“It’s not long ago I recommended immediate action after visiting the school and noticing the signs. It’s important for authorities to listen,” said Tobaiwa.
The school used to be owned by Globe and Phoenix Mine, which was shut after the government observed unsafe mining practices and environmental degradation.
The area around the school, because it is situated in a gold-rich area, has been a hive of illegal gold mining, with trails of open pits and heaps of soil visible on the school grounds.
The school management had previously complained about illegal mining activities on its grounds.
The government has announced the school will be permanently shut at its current site. A search for new premises will begin. Until it can resume teaching, pupils will be moved to another primary school.
Kwekwe, a gold mining city, is one of Zimbabwe’s gold-rich zones. In 2020, geological experts observed cross-cutting tunnels from mining activities that are running underneath the Kwekwe CBD, potentially threatening infrastructure and residents.
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