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So. Africa: Four miners trapped underground as rescuers race against time

Author: Shain Germaner, Times Live (South Africa), Published on: 10 December 2019

‘Rescuers in race against time to free trapped miners at Orkney mine’ 7 December 2019

As more than 100 rescue workers try to burrow their way into the heart of the collapsed Tau Lekoa mine in Orkney to free four trapped mineworkers, it has been revealed that the last time there was communication with the workers was late Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers has claimed that a dangerous attempt to mine natural support pillars may have led to the rockfall that trapped the workers from midday on Friday.

The owners of the North West gold mine, Village Main Reef Ltd, released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing that the four workers had been trapped underground. “Five workers were trapped by fallen rock in a working place some 1,350 metres below surface, following two seismic events — one measuring 2.3 and another 2.1 — at the mine early this (Friday) afternoon,” the statement read.

While rescue workers were in touch with the workers throughout Friday afternoon, Montisetse said that at around 5pm they received a distressing message that the group was not doing well. “One of them said they were suffocating and wanted oxygen, but that was the last they (rescue workers) heard,” he said. The rescue teams had hoped that they would be able to create some form of ventilation, but that it was believed the rocks had barricaded the ventilation shafts as well. Meanwhile, workers had another setback late on Friday night, where a ground collapse prevented them from going further. “They had to start from scratch,” said Montisetse.

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