Eight miners die in Harmony fire

By Drum Digital
06 February 2014

The bodies of eight missing miners have been found after a fire broke out at Harmony Gold's Doornkop gold mine, west of Johannesburg, the mineral resources department said on Thursday.

"One missing worker had still not been found at the time of issuing the statement," the department said.

On Tuesday around 6pm, a fire broke out on level 192 of the mine, roughly 1733 metres underground.

Eighteen people were reported missing at the end of the shift on Tuesday night.

One miner came out in the early hours of Wednesday. He gave rescue workers the location of other miners he had seen underground.

Eight other miners were brought to the surface later on Wednesday and were all unharmed. Nine miners were still unaccounted for at the time.

The chief mine inspector said that once the last miner had been found, the search and rescue team would need to make sure the fire had been extinguished, the department said on Thursday.

After that, an on-the-spot inspection would take place. The results of the inspection would help determine what steps the department needed to be teaken next.

Harmony spokesman James Duncan confirmed eight bodies had been recovered. The company was due to issue a statement later on Thursday.

He said on Wednesday that the underground fire had been subdued although conditions remained challenging.

All operations at the mine, other than essential services, were suspended on Wednesday night.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said the situation was deeply regrettable.

"The health and safety of workers is of paramount importance to us as the regulator of this sector," she said.

"We must ensure that we do all we can to get to the bottom of what caused this incident, in order to prevent similar occurrences in future.

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