105 Die in Tanzanite Mine Floods

June 1998

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 shafts.

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.


 

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