A collapsed dam wall in a mine in Battlefields located 200km from Harare, Zimbabwe, has killed 23 gold miners.
The illegal miners had entered shafts on land owned by RioZim and another firm in search of gold, but they were trapped as the collapse flooded the shafts and tunnels.
BBC quoted RioZim spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa as saying that the miners illegally gained access to shafts that were closed at the mine, which was not operational.
Gwatiringa added that the company was working with the government officials with regard to the rescue efforts.
Leading the rescue efforts, Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has said that none have been rescued yet.
CPU director Nathan Nkomo told the BBC that following the dam wall collapse, the mine shafts up to 50m-deep were filled with water.
Zimbabwean daily newspaper The Herald quoted the area administrator Fortunate Muzulu as saying: “Chances of rescuing any survivors are very slim.”
Muzulu told the state-owned newspaper that Zimplats will provide bigger pumps to drainwater to retrieve bodies.
Gwatiringa told media sources: “Most of the shafts are more than 20m-deep and the water levels have been rising. We are currently in the process of pumping out water to rescue and search for more bodies.”
Official data revealed that last year, small-scale gold producers such as illegal miners accounted for nearly 60% of the 33t of gold produced in the country.