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Ekeomah Atuonwu

Rescue workers have discovered no survivors in a rescue chamber deep inside a flooded zinc mine in Burkina Faso, the government and mine owner announced on Tuesday, effectively putting an end to hopes that eight missing miners could still be alive after a month.

The Perkoa mine, owned by Canadian firm Trevali Mining Corp (TV.TO) and located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of the capital Ouagadougou, was submerged on April 16 after unexpected torrential rain fell during the country’s dry season.

During a month-long search and rescue operation, there was some hope that the missing men might have reached the rescue chamber, which is stocked with food and water and is located around 570 meters below ground.

A view shows one of the galleries during a rescue operation inside Perkoa mine where water is still being pumped out, four weeks after a flood trapped eight miners inside the galleries, in Perkoa, Burkina Faso /Reuters/

“The rescue teams have opened the refuge chamber, unfortunately it is empty,” the government’s information service said in a statement posted on social media.

Trevali said the refuge chamber had been found intact, and it was now clear none of the eight missing workers had reached it.

“This is devastating news, and we would like to offer our deepest sympathies to our colleagues’ families and friends during this difficult time,” said Ricus Grimbeek, President and CEO of Trevali, in a statement.

“We will continue our search efforts unabated and reaffirm our commitment to work at full-speed to find our colleagues.”

Families of the missing men have been gathering every day at the site in Sanguie province, seeking solace from one another as they endure the agonizing wait for news.

AEM had earlier reported that the miners had been trapped for weeks at the time of filing the report, following heavy rainfall last month. Six of the miners are from Burkina Faso, with the remaining two coming from Zambia and Tanzania.

In Africa, fatal mining accidents are common. The Perkoa flood drew more attention than most because of the possibility, albeit remote, of a similar outcome to the dramatic 2010 rescue in Chile of 33 miners who had spent 69 days underground – but it was not to be.

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Ekeomah Atuonwu

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