Rescue operation under way to free 19 illegal miners

2012-05-22 11:19

A major search and rescue operation is under way to free 19 illegal diamond diggers trapped at an old mine at Bontekou Mine near Kleinzee in the Northern Cape.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Cherelle Ehlers said the police, search and rescue teams from Upington and Kimberley and the disaster management and rescue team of the Nama Khoi municipality are on the scene trying to rescue the diggers.

She said the police got information at approximately 3am today that some of the tunnels at the old mine had collapsed and 19 diggers were trapped.

Ehlers said 11 illegal diggers managed to escape and contact the police. The tunnels of the mine were closed for operations more than a month ago.

“The hole that collapsed is about six meters deep and leads to several tunnels and an underground waiting area,” she said.
Ehlers said the rescue operation is hindered by loose gravel.

She could not confirm claims that two diggers had been killed, but said three people were admitted to a hospital in Springbok.

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