Thirteen students injured as school collapses


Kwekwe (New Ziana) – A classroom block at Globe and Phoenix Primary School in Kwekwe collapsed into a mine shaft underneath on Thursday, but officials said miraculously 13 pupils were only lightly injured in the mishap, suspected to have been caused by illegal gold mining.

The building collapsed while class was in session at 7AM, sending both parents and school authorities into panic. The classroom was for grade fives.

Scores of artisanal gold miners operate around the school, digging tunnels underneath in search of the precious yellow metal.

Formal mines also operate in the area, which is thought to be very rich in gold.

People around the school suspect it is now sitting on tunnels dug either by the artisanal or formal miners, and at one point led calls to have it re-located elsewhere on safety grounds.

“When the teacher who was busy conducting lessons realized that the classroom block was giving in, he quickly ordered all the pupils to get out of the room for their safety. Within minutes when the pupils were out, the classroom block started to curve in from the front where the teacher was standing,” one of the teachers at the school said.

“As a result, about 13 pupils sustained minor injuries when they were going out. Tables, chairs and bags fell into the deep hole in the classroom. All the pupils are safe, but with minor injuries. We don’t know if there were any illegal miners underground,” the official added.

Legislator for the area, Judith Tobaiwa there were warnings signs for the mishaps, which led to the decommissioning of two classroom blocks at the school last year.

“It’s not long ago I recommended immediate action after having visited the school and noticed the signs,” she said.
Residents of the area said they also feared their houses could similarly collapse, including a local water reservoir.

Midlands provincial mining director, Tariro Ndhlovu said the dangers posed by mining around the school were known, and several meetings had been held with stakeholders such as the police, environmental agencies, district and city council authorities to find a solution.

He said a combined team from surveyors, and environmental monitors had been dispatched to the area to assess the possible damage to buildings caused by mining activities.

Mining in the area, and around Kwekwe city, started in the 1890s, and continues today.

New Ziana

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