Lily Mine survivor tells of lucky escape

2016-02-06 08:50


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Barberton – Sgi Ndlovu, an assistant at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga, had no idea what was happening when he and other workers were instructed to evacuate a collapsing shaft on Friday morning.

Ndlovu, 27, was one of 87 workers on duty when the top of the mine, based between Kaapmuiden and Barberton, collapsed.

Three people working at the mine still had not been located, according to earlier reports.

Speaking after being discharged from Medi-Clinic Barberton, where the survivors were sent for medical check-ups, Ndlovu said their shift was just starting when the electricity went off.

“As usual I woke up at 04:30 and prepared for work. I arrived there around 06:00. I went to the changing room to put on my overalls. I went to the lamp room where I received my lamp and safety packs,” said Ndlovu.

Once mine workers have their lamps and safety gear, they are lowered down to their shafts.

He said he and about 20 others arrived at their working station around 07:00. 

“[A] few minutes after arriving at our working shaft, the electricity supply just went off. Moments later, our supervisor instructed us to assemble at the safety point.

"From there we were instructed to evacuate the place as we were told that the mine surface had collapsed somewhere,” said Ndlovu.

He said at that moment, they were not really sure what was going on.

"It was hard to understand because everything was fine when we entered underground a few moments beforehand," he said.

Ndlovu said it was only when they emerged from underground that they realised that something bad was happening.

“We didn’t use the normal exit. We had to use the emergency route. And when we finally emerged from underground, we were horrified to find a lot of people and paramedics busy rescuing people,” said Ndlovu.

Treated for shock

Once they had been checked by the paramedics, they were quickly taken to Medi-Clinic Barberton in ambulances for further assessment.

“None of the miners from my shaft was seriously injured. Only a few had to be treated for shock. We were taken to Medi-Clinic for a check-up,” he said.

Ndlovu started working at Lily Mine in 2011.

He is the breadwinner at his home in Sherlock near the mine, where he lives with his 7-year-old daughter and his girlfriend.

Sister Sibahle Buthelezi from Medi-Clinic Barberton said 57 miners were admitted for a medical check-up.

“All 57 were checked and found to be in a stable condition. Fifty-six of them were discharged the same day [Friday] and only one had to be admitted after his blood pressure went up due to shock,” said Buthelezi.

Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison Vusi Shongwe visited the mine on Friday. 

He was accompanied by newly appointed provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma and Umjindi local municipality executive mayor, Lazarus Mashaba.

Shongwe said that they were representing the provincial government and were at the scene to find out exactly what happened.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  mining  |  lily mine collapse

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