Search off for missing illegal miners

2014-02-16 22:44
(ER24 via Twitter)

(ER24 via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - Rescue workers on Sunday night ended their search for illegal miners who had been trapped in a disused gold mine shaft in Benoni, on the East Rand.

After 11 of the illegal miners were rescued, the others refused to come to the surface, reportedly fearing arrest.

Initial reports had suggested that there were as many as 200 people trapped in the shaft.

"The rescue operation was carried out to completion.

“We are not going to resume tomorrow," Rogger Mamaila, a local municipal emergency and rescue services official, told AFP.

It is not known how many are still in the shaft.

“Some of those who came out were dehydrated, but in good spirits,” emergency responder Kobus Du Toit told AP.

They were believed to have been trapped since Saturday morning and police patrolling in the area heard their screams for help, Sapa reported.

Rescue teams arriving at the scene were able to speak to about 30 miners near the top of the old shaft, whose entrance was covered by a large rock.

They said as many as 200 others were trapped further down a steep tunnel at the mine.

Illegal mining remains a serious concern, despite progress in curbing it, the mineral resources department said in a statement.

Some analysts say the problem could increase if legal mines close or downsize, forcing skilled workers who have lost their jobs to turn to illegal activities.

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