Residents hold on to hope as search continues for boy who fell down mine shaft

2017-02-28 12:00
Conditions are still too unsafe to rescue a 5-year-old boy who fell into an open mineshaft. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

Conditions are still too unsafe to rescue a 5-year-old boy who fell into an open mineshaft. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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Johannesburg - Residents of the Jerusalem informal settlement in Boksburg, are still holding on to the hope that a rescue team will find a five-year-old boy who fell down a mine shaft on Saturday. 

On Tuesday morning, a small group of men sat under a tree drinking beer. The disappointment on their faces were evident. Other locals simply stared down the empty shaft into which young Richard Thole allegedly fell. 

"We feel very bad... [about] what happened here. It is not just this shaft that is left open, there are many more," one resident, Nyiko Shibakwa, said. 

Shibakwa said calls to the municipality to close the disused mine shafts in the area had gone unanswered. 

He has been staying in Jerusalem for eight years. 

"The mines rescue team tried yesterday [Monday], but we are not happy that it is taking so long. We please ask them to accelerate the process," he said.

A few hours later, the crane and a front end loader arrived at the shaft. Residents then began to gather around.

Ekurhuleni emergency services acting spokesperson Vincent Khoza said that, when the rescue team went down on Sunday, there was no sign of Thole.

On Monday morning, locals flocked to the shaft. They stood nearby watching and waiting for any news. Some sang gospel songs, while others drank beer.

Thole fell into the hole sometime between 12:00 and 13:00 on Saturday.

Rescue South Africa helped with the operation, but the effort was called off later that day due to the instability of the ground.

The boy's family said they had last saw him when he went to play with friends, Khoza said.

On Monday evening, the rescue operation was suspended to due darkness and toxic gas underground. 

Khoza said the rescue operation would resume on Tuesday morning.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents  |  mining

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