At Press Time
105 Die in Tanzanite Mine Floods
Death toll could rise; tanzanite availability uncertain
A mining disaster caused by flooding at "Block B," a tanzanite
mine in Merelani, Tanzania, claimed at least 105 miners' lives in April.
The disaster occurred as severe rains soaked the ground and flooded 14 mine
Rescue operations were difficult because all roads leading to Merelani
from the nearest major city of Arusha were all but washed away in the storms.
Tanzania's prime minister directed rescue operations from the site.
One miner was found alive. He had spent a day at the bottom of one of
the mines and reportedly survived by breathing through the hose of a compressor
that was used to operate a jackhammer. Gem dealers in Arusha have formed
a committee to help the families of the miners who died in the accident.
How the tragedy will affect availability of this popular gemstone was
unknown at press time. See "Out of East Africa," p. 71, for more
issues relating to tanzanite mining.
by Robert Weldon, G.G. Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.