TWO stone crushers in Kitwe’s Garnetone area have died after being buried alive in a trench while digging for stones.
Prisca Kaluba, 34, of house number 2042, Racecourse, was buried alive together with her 19-year-old daughter Ireen Kaluba.
Their bodies have been retrieved and taken to Kitwe Central Hospital (KCH) mortuary.
A combined Zambia Police and fire brigade team which went to the scene had a tough time retrieving the body of Ms Kaluba, which was still trapped underneath the earth, while that of her daughter was quickly exhumed by a passer-by and taken to KCH, where she was pronounced dead.
The officers, who started the operations around 11:00 hours, only managed to retrieve the body around 14:00 hours amidst wails from on-lookers and close family friends.
Police in riot gear had a tough time keeping the on-lookers at bay as Ms Kaluba’s body was being retrieved from the cave.
A Daily Mail crew found Kitwe district police commanding officer Lizzie Machina and senior officers from Kitwe City Council (KCC) at the scene waiting for the body to be retrieved.
Copperbelt commissioner of police Joyce Kasosa said in an interview yesterday that the incident happened around 10:30 hours.
“Yes, I have received a report that two people have died in Kitwe. I am told they were digging for stones in a trench when the soil on top collapsed on them and buried them alive,” Ms Kasosa said.
KCC public relations manager Dorothy Sampa said the local authority is deeply saddened by the death of the two women and appealed to the residents of Racecourse to refrain from digging for stones in the trenches.
“What has happened today here is a big tragedy. As a local authority, we have been warning people against digging for stones in the trenches.
“We are really saddened that two lives have been lost,” she said.
KCC has since buried the trenches to prevent further loss of lives.
And according to a relative of the deceased, Exhilda Chola, Ms Kaluba and Ireen were digging for stones in the trench when the soil on top fell on them, burying them alive.
“We just heard a loud noise with people streaming inside the trench, we quickly rushed there but we could not see anything, that’s when we started calling people for help,” she said.
Another witness, Justin Muyembe, said he together with other people managed to retrieve the body of Ireen, who was pronounced dead upon arrival at KCH.
Zambia Daily Mail