Operation to recover bodies of illegal miners suspended

2015-09-16 20:00

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Johannesburg - The operation to recover the bodies of illegal miners who died underground at an old East Rand mine has been suspended, the mineral resources department said on Wednesday.

"The recovery mission was suspended yesterday, 15 September, 13:00, due to the fact that the conditions underground have since become too dangerous," Mabelebele told News24.

The operation was endangering the lives of the rescuers and some of the illegal miners who were assisting the rescue services to locate the bodies. 

"As of yesterday, some of the openings had caved in. This is an old abandoned mine with no form of support for the rocks underground," she said.

The department was still awaiting the advice of the mine health and safety inspector, who was working with the mine rescue services.

"Further recovery attempts will only be pursued once... the rescue services deems it safe to do so," she said.

It was initially reported that there were 12 bodies in the old mine. However, following investigations by mine rescue services and information from illegal miners who escaped, it was believed that three bodies needed to be recovered. 

Several attempts were made to recover the bodies over a number of days, guided by the illegal miners themselves. 

"One body could only be seen, but unfortunately could not be reached... due to the diametre sizes between the rocks underground," Mabelebele said.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi commended the hard work of the mine rescue team and the chief inspector for mine health and safety.

On Monday, Gauteng police said it was believed that the illegal miners died early last week when a generator exploded underground. Due to the fumes at the time, they could not be rescued.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  mining

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