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Residents of Zimbabwe’s Hwange are living in fear after state-run mining company’s failure to put out raging underground blazes By Calvin Manika Hwange, Zimbabwe – Ten-year-old Simba Mulezu was driving cattle home from his mother’s corn fields when the ground gave way under his feet, plunging him into burning coal underground. The incident left him with permanently deformed limbs. “I spent several months in hospital and Hwange Colliery Company did not assist me with hospital bills and other necessities,” Mulezu, now 22, told reporters. “ my parents and relatives have stood by me.” Coal fires have become a major issue over the past five years in Hwange, occurring regularly in various areas of the mining town. One blaze has been burning underground for 15 years. In late 2021, an eight-year old girl who was relieving herself in a nearby bush area was swallowed by the ground and fell into a coal seam fire. She later died from her wounds at a hospital. Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) is based in Hwange in southwestern Zimbabwe.