Search continues for trapped illegal miners

2012-05-24 18:58

Kimberley - Rescue teams at a disused diamond mine near Kleinzee continued with excavations in an effort to reach about 15 trapped illegal miners on Thursday.

Captain Cherelle Ehlers said rescue teams were still digging a trench to try and get to the illegal miners late on Thursday afternoon.

She said conditions at the site were extremely difficult and dangerous.

Police had recovered two bodies and rescuers could see another, but the unstable conditions had prevented them from retrieving it.

Earlier, one illegal digger was rescued. He had sustained minor injuries and was treated for these and shock at a Springbok hospital.

Mine engineers visited the site earlier this week and decided to dig a ditch alongside the tunnel where the diggers were trapped, from which to try and reach them.

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

Eleven illegal diggers reportedly escaped and alerted the police. The collapsed hole was about 6m deep and led to several tunnels and an underground waiting area.

Johannesburg

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, attempts to rescue two illegal miners trapped in a disused gold mine were suspended on Thursday because of safety concerns.

The department of mineral and energy affairs would make a recommendation on Friday on the way forward, said Johannesburg emergency management services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi.

The men, both Zimbabweans, were in a group illegally mining for gold in a disused shaft at Durban Deep on the West Rand.

They were caught in a rockfall shortly after midnight. Six illegal miners, all Zimbabweans, escaped and raised the alarm.

Another five illegal miners had since emerged from the mine, and had assisted emergency services with any information that could help the two trapped miners.

Mulaudzi said earlier on Thursday that there could be more miners underground, but that efforts were focused on getting the two out of the mine.

He said their location within the shaft system was known to rescue services.

- SAPA

Read more on:    kimberley  |  johannesburg  |  search and rescue  |  mining
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