10 bodies recovered from mine

2012-05-27 08:43

Cape Town - The bodies of 10 illegal miners were recovered from a disused diamond mine near Kleinzee, in the Northern Cape on Saturday, De Beers said.

"Ten deceased diggers had been recovered from the collapsed tunnels [by Saturday evening]. One digger has been rescued and eleven diggers reportedly escaped," the diamond company said in a statement.

"The co-ordinated rescue and recovery operation is continuing. The operation will progress until all illegally excavated tunnels are found and searched for survivors or deceased diggers."

De Beers said the collapsed tunnel that was discovered by the rescue team was cleared on Saturday.

"Mining could then proceed towards what is reported, by diggers, to be another tunnel in the network. This work will continue until the tunnel is intersected."

Underground mine

The tunnels were not part of a previously worked underground mine but were excavated illegally at the site.

On Friday, rescuers recovered the bodies of five miner at the site, police spokesperson Captain Cherelle Ehlers said. She said rescue teams reached the collapsed tunnel by digging a trench alongside the entrance of a disused mine to try and get to the trapped miners.

Earlier this week, police recovered two bodies and rescuers could see another, but the unstable conditions prevented them from retrieving it.

One injured illegal digger was later rescued.

Tunnels at the mine collapsed at 15:00 on Tuesday. The mine had closed the tunnels in April.

Eleven illegal diggers reportedly escaped and alerted the police. The collapsed hole was about six metres deep and led to several tunnels and an underground waiting area.

- SAPA

Read more on:    kimberly  |  mining
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