Trapped KZN miners presumed dead, rescue called off

2016-04-19 16:00


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Durban - The brief search for illegal miners trapped underground in a disused illegal mine in Pongola has been abandoned, squashing any hopes that they might still be alive.

A rock fall at the Klipwal goldmine in Northern KwaZulu-Natal on Friday prompted a response from emergency service personnel who had initially heard mumbling coming from one of the victims.

When no more sound was heard from the mine and amidst perilous conditions, the search was called off.

The illegal miners, known as a zama-zamas, had been inside the disused mine, looking for gold.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said that officers had responded to the scene after the shaft had collapsed on Friday.

"Empangeni Search and Rescue Unit proceeded to the area. Durban Search and Rescue Team and other units assisted but could not be able to find them," he said.

"The operation was called off on Friday due to the fact that it was not safe to carry on. It is alleged that five illegal miners who were trapped inside are believed to be dead now. The police managed to arrest three other miners who were found at the mine. They were charged for illegal mining and trespassing," he said.

Zwane said that men were understood to be illegal immigrants and had appeared in the Pongola Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Read more on:    mining

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