Missing miners: families ‘anxious and traumatised’

Impala Platinum Mine. Picture: Lerato Sejake
Impala Platinum Mine. Picture: Lerato Sejake

It was late in the morning on Tuesday when nine Impala Platinum miners heard the sound of falling rocks and ran for their lives. But only seven made it out, two others remain trapped underground. 

Health and Safety executive for Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, Dr John Andrews, told City Press today that the tragedy happened at about 09:45 yesterday morning at shaft 1 on the 18th level, about 1200 meters underground. 

No contact has yet been made with the trapped miners who Andrews described as highly experienced and professional. 

The company can not as yet give away their identities, but can confirm that one is from Lesotho and the other stays locally with his wife and 25-year-old son. 

“They are anxious and traumatised. They have received counselling here last night. The family of the miner from Lesotho will wait for a further update before deciding on whether or not to make their way here or not.” 

Media has been denied access to the shaft and the area just outside remains quiet with no signs of activity. According to Andrews six mine rescue teams - made up of six people each - are working to reach the missing miners. 

“They are highly specialized teams, two are from Impala and the other four are from outside mines.” 

The cause of the fall of ground is not yet known and an investigation will follow. As yet there has been no communication or any way to establish if the miners are still alive. 

While operations at shaft 1 have been suspended, it is business as usual at all of Impala’s other shafts. 

This tragedy comes a few months after four miners died at the same mine in an underground fire. 

In a similar incident, the bodies of three miners who were trapped at the Lily Mine in Barberton a few months back are also yet to be recovered. 

Andrews said that once the rescue teams finally reach the miners the tedious process of picking away at the rock by hand will begin.

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