6 miners killed, 15 trapped underground in collapse of a gold mine in Zimbabwe, state media reports

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Six people have died in the collapse of a gold mine in Zimbabwe, and 15 others are still trapped underground, according to state media reports.

State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quoted deputy mines minister Polite Kambamura as saying 34 miners had been caught in Friday’s collapse. Thirteen managed to escape.

The broadcaster on Saturday said rescue operations were underway at Beyhose mine in the gold rich town of Chegutu, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of the capital, Harare.

The police and the mines ministry could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Incidents of mine collapses, often involving artisanal miners, are rampant in the southern African country that is rich in gold, coal and diamonds. The country of 15 million people also has Africa’s largest reserves of lithium, a mineral in global demand due to its use in electric car batteries.

Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich national parks, abandoned mines, rivers and even towns are often swarmed with people, including young children, seeking to find valuable deposits — it is one of the few economic activities still going on in a country that has suffered industry closures, a currency crisis and rampant unemployment over the past two decades.

Critics blame economic mismanagement and corruption for the collapse of a once-thriving economy and one of Africa’s bright spots. The government points to two decades of sanctions imposed by the United States over allegations of human rights violations.

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