More than 900 trapped underground in Free State mine

Welkom – More than 900 miners are trapped underground in a Sibanye Gold mine in the Free State, following an electric cable outage after a storm on Wednesday night.

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said on Thursday afternoon that all the miners have been accounted for and are safe. Operators are currently trying to restore power to the shaft so that the miners can leave.

He said generators had been brought in to assist.

"We are experiencing some issues, but they [the miners] have all been accounted for," Wellsted said.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa said about 940 workers were initially trapped underground. Forty have since been rescued from one of the shafts.

Mathunjwa said the mine's management should "mobilise all resources" to rescue the workers as soon as possible.

"Amcu views this incident as extreme due to the sheer number of workers involved. It is common cause that lives might already be threatened due to dehydration and blood sugar issues because of a lack of nutrition," he said.

"It is also quite common for adults to be on chronic medication, and it is highly probable that there are some workers who are trapped without access to their medicine.

"Mining is very unsafe, and mineworkers risk life and limb daily to put bread on the table for their families. AMCU calls on Sibanye-Stillwater management to step up its rescue efforts so that these workers can be brought back to the surface as soon as possible."

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