News / Africa

S. African Mine Rescue Halted After Miners Refuse to Leave

  • South African authorities said 22 gold miners who came out of a disused and temporarily blocked shaft, near Johannesburg over the last two days have been arrested and will be charged with illegal mining, Feb. 17, 2014.
  • Suspected illegal miners await treatment after emerging from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • A suspected illegal miner talks to emergency personnel after emerging from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • A suspected illegal miner climbs out of a ventilation shaft used to access an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • South African rescuers started bringing to the surface at least 30 illegal miners who had been trapped by debris in the abandoned gold shaft near Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.

  • A suspected illegal miner is led away after being rescued from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • Rescue officials use a crane to remove debris as they work to rescue trapped suspected illegal miners from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A trapped illegal miner at a disused gold mine shaft is bought to the surface, near, Benoni, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A suspected illegal miner talks to officials after being rescued from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
VOA News
South African authorities say rescue efforts at an illegal gold mining operation were suspended overnight Sunday, after police arrested the first 11 miners lifted to safety and the rest refused to leave the shaft.
 
Officials made contact earlier Sunday with about 30 of the trapped miners, who reported that nearly 200 others were stuck in tunnels deep below the surface. 
 
Authorities had not confirmed that total by late Sunday.  But emergency crews who unblocked the shaft said they had left a ladder at the site for other miners to use if they decide to leave overnight.
 
South African media quotes authorities as saying they suspect the miners in Gauteng province were robbed by a rival group who then used boulders to trap the miners below ground. Police are reported to be investigating the allegations, but no official statements had been released. 
 
The miners are thought to have entered the mine Saturday after illegally digging an entry tunnel near the abandoned shaft. They were discovered after police patrolling the area heard calls for help.
 
Illegal mining is common in South Africa, a major producer of gold and platinum.  Some analysts say the problem is exacerbated by mining layoffs that force skilled workers to turn to illegal activities.
 
The South African Department of Mineral Resources posted a statement on Twitter Sunday saying "the issue of illegal mining remains a serious concern” and that it “continue[s] to work with law enforcement agencies in this regard."

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Moe from: Washington D.C.
February 17, 2014 6:54 AM
Legacy of Mr. Nelson Mandella.

by: Mbanana from: South Africa
February 16, 2014 4:11 PM
it is about time that the world see the utter destitution of this nation. the utter depravity disease and corruption... the AIDS pandemic, the crime and poverty... take a good look - because this is our reality

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