Tragic Landslide in Copper Mine Claims 11 Lives, More Missing

LUSAKA, Zambia—In the aftermath of a devastating landslide at an open-pit copper mine in Zambia, rescue teams have confirmed the death of 11 informal miners. The miners were trapped in tunnels by the landslide which occurred last month. While one survivor has been located and is currently recuperating in a hospital, up to 26 other miners are still missing and feared dead.

The latest update on the death toll was released late Sunday. The survivor, a 49-year-old man, was rescued from the debris last week, according to the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit coordinating the rescue efforts.

The first two bodies were recovered last week, with an additional nine bodies found over the weekend, as reported by the disaster management unit.

Government officials estimate that as many as 38 miners could have been trapped by the landslides at the mine, located near the city of Chingola in Zambia’s copper belt. The exact number, however, remains uncertain. Officials are depending on families to report their missing members, and there is a growing concern that the death toll could exceed 30.

The landslide occurred on November 30, triggered by heavy rainfall. The miners worked late at night in three separate tunnels, which were subsequently flooded due to the rain. Rescue operations have been complicated by the need to pump water and remove rocks and earth from the site. The army has been assisting in these operations.

The miners are suspected of conducting illegal copper ore excavation without the mine owner’s knowledge, complicating efforts to determine the exact number of miners trapped.

Zambia ranks among the world’s top 10 copper producers. Chingola, located approximately 400 kilometers north of the capital city of Lusaka, is home to expansive open-pit mines. These mines are surrounded by large waste piles of rocks and earth, one of which is believed to have collapsed on the miners’ tunnels due to the heavy rainfall. Informal mining, often conducted without proper safety measures, is prevalent in the area.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, police speculated that most of the miners were likely dead, a statement that drew criticism from the government for its premature nature. Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema visited the mine last week, expressing hope for discovering additional survivors.