Government sources have confirmed that the dead bodies of four out of eight missing miners have been found nearly two months after floodwaters submerged the zinc mine they were working in.
The Perkoa Zinc mine, owned by Canadian firm Trevali Mining Corp and located some 120km (75 miles) west of the capital, Ouagadougou, collapsed on April 16 after torrential rain that brought severe flooding fell unexpectedly during the country’s dry season.
A spokesman man for the government, Lionel Bilgo, confirmed the discovery of the four bodies, adding that the search operations would continue until the other four missing miners are found.
Six of the missing men are Burkina Faso nationals, one from Tanzania and another from Zambia.
“Unfortunately, after 39 days of intense search, the lifeless bodies of four miners were found,” a government statement added on Wednesday. It did not reveal the nationalities of the recovered bodies.
On May 17, hopes that the missing men might have reached the refuge chamber in the mine were dashed when rescue workers found the chamber still intact, indicating the miners had not gotten to it. The refuge chamber is stocked with food and water and is located approximately 570 metres (1,870 feet) below ground.
Meanwhile, many locals had criticized the state’s emergency services for taking too long to reach the rescue chamber.
Trevali said rescue operations could only begin after the road leading into the mine, which was washed away by the aggressive flood was rebuilt, including the reinstallation of damaged electrical equipment at the site.
More than 30 million litres of water have been pumped out of the submerged mine, Trevali stated in an update on search efforts.