World
All trapped S.African miners rescued
Publish Date: Feb 17, 2014
All trapped S.African miners rescued
Rescuers tend to one of the 11 workers that were rescued from an illegal gold mine in Benoni, outside Johannesburg, on Sunday. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

JOHANNESBURG - Eleven men who became trapped in an illegal gold mine in South Africa were rescued on Sunday, but an unknown number remained underground fearing arrest.

The men, who were all uninjured, were immediately handed over to police. Rescue officials said many others were now able to leave the mine but had refused to come out while officials were present.

"We managed to retrieve 11 young men. We believe they are South Africans, they have been treated and handed over to the police," municipal emergency and rescue services official Rogger Mamaila told AFP.

"Yes, there is a possibility that there could be more, but we don't know and we are not going to send any of our rescuers down there."

Police spokesman Mack Mngomezulu told AFP a number of men remained in the abandoned mine east of Johannesburg and were refusing to come out.

The number of people still down there remains unclear -- around 30 miners who were trapped at a shallow level had earlier told rescuers from a private operator ER24 that there were 200 others stuck at a level underneath them.

That was never confirmed, however, with local municipal officials insisting there were only around 30 people trapped.

Mamaila declared the rescue operation closed around two hours after the 11 were brought to the surface.

"Should there somebody who was not brave enough to come out, at least we removed the boulders and have created a free passageway," said Mamaila. "It's for them to decide when to come out."

Municipal officials said the workers went down on Saturday into the mine using a shaft dug illegally behind a cricket stadium in the Benoni district east of Johannesburg.

But police suspect some of them had been underground for up 12 days.

Many are thought to be former mine workers who are familiar with the geography of the mines and can walk for several kilometres underground and possibly come out through other exit points, according to police.

Illegal mining in the bowels of South Africa's abandoned pits has long plagued the world's sixth-largest gold producer, with diggers -- known as "zama zamas" (try, try) -- living sometimes for months underground to smuggle the precious metal.

- Accidents commonplace -

The men became trapped when large rocks fell and blocked the entrance to the shaft, and were able to climb out when rescuers using excavation equipment cleared the way.

Police on patrol nearby discovered that the men were trapped in the mine when a passer-by said he had heard people screaming for help.

Accidents are commonplace in South Africa's mines, which are the deepest in the world.

At least eight miners were killed nearly two weeks ago after an earth tremor sparked an underground blaze at a Harmony Gold mine west of Johannesburg.

In July 2009, nine workers were killed in a rock fall in a platinum mine.

The same year, at least 82 people digging illegally in an disused gold mine shaft died when a fire broke out underground.

Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu last week lashed out at the poor safety record at regulated mining operations, where 14 deaths have been recorded in the first seven weeks of this year.

"One death is one too many," she said on Thursday.

Throughout the 20th century, an estimated 69,000 people died in South Africa's mining industry, according to a government-sponsored commission of inquiry.

But the number of fatal accidents has fallen sharply in recent years.

According to union figures, 112 people died in the mines in 2012.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Bashir to run for re-election
SUDANESE President Omar al-Bashir - in power since a 1989 coup - will stand for re-election in 2015 after being retained Tuesday as leader of the ruling National Congress Party...
Paralysed man walks again after breakthrough treatment
A paralysed man can walk again after receiving revolutionary treatment which one of the British scientists responsible hailed as a breakthrough "more impressive than a man walking on the Moon" - although others urged caution....
Pistorius to learn sentence for killing girlfriend
SOUTH African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius today learns his sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year...
Warring S.Sudan leaders accept
SOUTH Sudan President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival rebel chief Riek Machar have accepted mutual responsibility for a 10-month civil war...
US drone crashes at Niger airport
A US drone crash-landed at Niger's main airport for unknown reasons on Monday, the US army said, forcing the closure of the runway for several hours....
Warring South Sudan rivals meet in Tanzania
WARRING South Sudanese factions were meeting Monday in Tanzania in the latest bid to end a 10-month civil war in which thousands of people have been killed...
Do Ugandan tycoons prepare their children to take over their business empires?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter