At least nine miners were killed on Friday after a shaft in an informal gold mine collapsed, the Zimbabwe Miners' Federation (ZMF) and an engineer at the site said.
ZMF president, Henrietta Rushwaya, said on Saturday that four bodies had been recovered so far, while five others were still stuck under rubble.
However, retrieval operations are complicated by the fact that the shaft is unstable.
"It is difficult to retrieve the bodies because the mine is still collapsing. Each time we try is becoming a threat to our lives as well," said mine engineer Hussein Phiri
The incident took place at the Bay Horse Mine in Chegutu, some 120 kilometres west of the capital Harare.
Johannes Nyautete is one of the lucky miners who managed to escape.
"The mine collapsed as I entered with a colleague. We met other colleagues, numbering about 18 or 20, rushing out and we all escaped together," he said.
Mining minister, Soda Zhemu, who came to oversee the rescue efforts, confirmed that 21 miners had survived the collapse.
He said three other miners were thought to be missing, but their whereabouts were unknown.
Several hundred local residents watched in anguish on Saturday afternoon, waiting for news of family or colleagues, as rescue workers tried to retrieve bodies from the mine.
With the economy floundering, illegal mining is widespread in Zimbabwe, often in very dangerous conditions.
"What I would say as being the cause of the so many accidents and incidences is a result of irresponsible mining where proper precaution which is supposed to be observed is not being undertaken," said Zhemu.
Accidents are common in the mineral-rich country. In 2019, 24 miners died when an abandoned pit flooded after torrential rains in central Zimbabwe.