Ten illegal miners resurface

By Drum Digital
17 February 2014

Ten illegal miners trapped in an abandoned mine in Benoni, on the East Rand, were rescued on Monday, Ekurhuleni emergency services said.

"Ten illegal miners have been brought to the surface this morning and they were in a good condition of health," rescue technician David Tshabalala said.

"The men have undergone a medical check and were handed over to police."

Tshabalala said it was unclear how many illegal miners were still underground because those who resurfaced could not provide them with numbers.

"We had men who came halfway up the shaft but then turned around. Our rescue members cannot go down the shaft because it is too dangerous," he said.

"There is an opening and we sent a chain down that we can pull them up with."

He said food and water were sent down to the miners on Sunday, but they could be running low.

The illegal miners were found on Sunday while emergency services were conducting operations around illegal mining in the area. They heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

At least 200 more illegal miners were believed to be trapped underground.

Gauteng police said on Monday that 11 illegal miners who were rescued had been charged.

"They will be appearing in the Benoni Magistrate's Court [on Tuesday] on charges of illegal mining," said Lt-Col Katlego Mogale.

The group was in police custody.

They were brought up from the mine shaft on Sunday and examined by emergency workers. No injuries were reported.

Rescue workers abandoned their rescue mission on Sunday evening after the remaining men refused to be brought to the surface.

"After the 11 illegal miners had been brought up, the rest heard that they would be arrested and said they did not want to come back up," ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said.

It was too dangerous for the rescue workers to go down into the mine. Police and private security companies, however, remained at the shaft.

-SAPA

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