ZIMBABWE :Six Chinese nationals and two Zimbabweans have been killed in gas explosions at a nickel mine in northern Zimbabwe, a lawmaker said on Friday.
The incident involved oxygen gas tanks that exploded at the mine in the Mazowe area, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the capital Harare.
“We confirm that six foreigners died,” said police spokesman Paul Nyathi told AFP, adding investigations were underway.
But according to a local MP, the death toll was eight, including two Zimbabweans, in two accidents that occurred on Thursday and Friday.
“There were two explosions on two different days,” local lawmaker Fortune Chasi told AFP on the phone after returning from the scene.
The six foreigners were Chinese, Mazowe lawmaker Fortune Chasi told Reuters.
“When I got there, the police were collecting the bodies. Ministry of mines officials and other government officials were there trying to establish what exactly happened,” Chasi said. The explosion happened at the mine about 50 km (30 miles) north of the capital, Harare, police said.
Officers were “investigating the circumstances in which six foreign nationals as well as a Zimbabwean died when some gas cylinders exploded at SAS mine,” police spokesperson Paul Nyathi. Another person was critically injured and taken to a local hospital, Nyathi added.
On Thursday night, an oxygen tank blew up as Chinese employees were working on it, he said.“It killed six of them, with another local employee,” he said.
The following day, a 21-year-old Zimbabwean worker was killed as he “tried to open an oxygen gas tank… and it just blew up,” Chasi said.