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Govt ‘Ignores’ Hwange Underground Coal Fires

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The Government has been accused of deliberately avoiding dealing with underground coal fires in Hwange that have claimed lives and left some people with permanent physical and psychological scars.

The Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) recently petitioned the government over the lava-like fires but received no response.

The CNRG sent a report to the Mines ministry and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) about children being burnt in the coal pits and dumps in the mining town.

Speaking to NewsDay on Wednesday, CNRG director Farai Maguwu said the Government was not keen on addressing the problem. He said:

Government, especially the Mines ministry, has been avoiding the issue after our report on children being burnt by the coal seam fires.

We raised our concerns to the ministry and EMA and made follow-ups, but there has been no response.

In November, the CNRG compiled a report that revealed that underground fires, which mostly ignite through spontaneous combustion, are causing immense human suffering. The report said:

Some of the victims, who are now adults, were injured while young and had their future ruined by the permanent injuries, lengthy periods spent in hospitals and unending excruciating pain that has become a permanent experience in their lives, largely due to inadequate therapy they received.

The children who fall victim to the coal seam fires suffer a range of physical and psychological effects which include post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meanwhile, the coordinator of Greater Hwange Residents Trust, Fidelis Chima, said about 10 000 people are in danger as the fires have been intensifying in the past two decades.

More: NewsDay

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