Three Mopani Copper Mines miners have died after an underground loader caught fire at Mindola North Shaft in Kitwe.

Mopani Copper Mines and police have confirmed the accident.

“Security commander Mr Singani Tilimboyi accompanied by Zone B chief security officer Mr Chipoka Evaristo Mine No 215641 reported to have attended to the report of fatal mine accident which happened at Mindola North Shaft at 1380 Meter Level around 13:30hrs in which three miners namely; Male Kamanga Tom Mine No 224722, Nrc No 444732/67/1 an Artisan of house No T54 Wusakile Township, Kitwe, Male Mwamba Barthlomew Mine No 224736, Nrc No 440552/67/1, an Artisan Electrician of House No D4-186 Wusakile Township, Kitwe and Male Mungo Ray Mine No 223338, Nrc No 415190/67/1, an Artisan of Plot No 2433, New Ndeke Township Kitwe, who died of suffocation due to the smoke from the Opermin Loader which caught fire at the said level as it went for refueling,” a police source said.

“Male Mumba Francis Mine No 224276,aged 29, NRC No.439423/67/1 an Artisan of Chimwemwe Township, Kitwe , survived the inferno after he escaped through the flame and sustained facial burns, he has since been admitted to Wusakile Mine Hospital. All the three bodies are in Wusakile mine Hospital Mortuary after being certified dead by Government Doctors at Kitwe Central Hospital.”

And Mopani Copper Mines Public Relations manager Nerbet Mulenga said operations at Mindola shaft had been suspended for now.

In a statement, Mulenga said the accident happened on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 13:45 hours.

“It is with deep regret that Mopani Copper Mines Plc confirms an incident of a fatal underground fire at Mindola North Shaft in Kitwe on Thursday, 7 February, 2019 at 13:45 hours. Tragically, the lives of three employees were lost after a loader caught fire.Mopani Copper Mines Plc is working closely with the Mine Safety Department and other relevant authorities to inform the next of kin of the deceased employees and to investigate this tragic accident. All operations at Mindola North have been suspended until further notice,” stated Mulenga.

“Mopani Copper Mines Plc management expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the three employees and their colleagues and will be providing them with the necessary support during this difficult time. Further updates will be communicated as appropriate.”