South Africa: 11 illegal miners rescued from abandoned gold mine shaft in Benoni nr Johannesburg, unknown number refuse to come up fearing arrest – 160214 1725z

Latest: About 10 miners have been rescued alive, more are coming up rapidly

(1554z – Alex Crawford Sky News)
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(Crane being moved into position to remove a large boulder)

Emergency and rescue services have been busy for over six hours trying to free trapped illegal miners outside Benoni CBD on Johannesburgs East Rand.

It is understood they were trapped since early yesterday.

Since early this morning paramedics and rescuers joined forces to set up a plan on how to free them. Numerous heavy duty rescue vehicles and equipment was brought to the old mine shaft to stabilise the ground.

Shortly before 15:00 rescue workers managed to lift the first large rock from the small opening and are hopeful that they will be able to reach some of the miners in die course.

According to local Ekhuruleni Metro Police they were patrolling the open veld for illegal dumping when they heard the cries for help. Upon further investigation they found the illegal miners trapped beneath several layers boulders. The officials then called for rescue services.

Rescue services have since tried to remove the boulders and managed to remove one large boulder. They have also tried to send bottles of water down to the trapped miners.

According to the miners, which can only be verbally communicated with, there are 30 of them trapped in the top section and another 200 odd in another section below them. However this is still difficult to confirm.

Disaster vehicles and law enforcement officials have staged on the scene awaiting the miners. They will be assessed and treated should they have any injuries. The police will also be involved.” – ER24 Emergency Services February 16, 2014 15:25 (SA Time)

Update 1557z:

“Emergency workers have succeeded to gain access to the illegal miners trapped underground in Benoni.

 

Several miners have been brought to surface. As they are being lifted out of the one squared meter hole they are escorted to the medical station where they are checked for any injuries. Once they are cleared they are taken into custody by the local police and EMPD.

 

It still remains unclear if there is any truth in what the miners have told rescuers that several others are trapped in a separate section of the mine. Once the first group have been brought to the surface, rescue workers will make their way down to inspect and search for other miners.

An eight hour joint affront between numerous services made it possible to rescue these miners” – ER24 Emergency Services February 16, 2014 17:53(SA Time)

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(Rescue teams setting up to start securing the site)

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(Heavily armed officers present at the illegal mine in Benoni. Rescue has begun. ER24 on scene and ready)

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(Aerial view of mine rescue in of illegal miners)

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(Crane being moved into position to remove a large boulder)

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(Aerial view of mine rescue)

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(First illegal miner just surfaced)

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(First two miners rescued so far. ER24 on scene ready to treat the injured)

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(Another miner rescued. ER24 assessing the miners before being handed over to SAP)

Other Reports

“Rescuers are communicating with a group of about 30 miners trapped by fallen boulders below the surface at the old mine site in Benoni.

Rescue services in South Africa are trying to reach more than 200 illegal miners reported trapped underground in an abandoned gold shaft in a suburb just east of Johannesburg, an emergency services spokesman said on Sunday.

Werner Vermaak of ER24 emergency services said rescuers were communicating with a group of about 30 miners trapped by fallen boulders below the surface at the old mine site in Benoni.

They told us there are about 200 others trapped further below, Vermaak said.

Its an abandoned mine shaft in the middle of the public veld (open fields) … it was not a blocked-off area, he added. No injuries or casualties had been reported so far, Vermaak said.

Heavy equipment had been brought in to try to remove the boulders obstructing the shaft.

Illegal mining of abandoned shafts is common in South Africa, where informal miners excavate mineral ore to be sold to buyers, often living underground in dangerous and precarious conditions. Fatal accidents are common, and underground battles between rival groups have also been reported.

The illegal diggers also sometimes invade active mines. At least 82 men – thought to have been illegal miners – died after an underground fire at a Harmony gold mine in South Africa in 2009.” – khaleejtimes.com/Reuters

7 thoughts on “South Africa: 11 illegal miners rescued from abandoned gold mine shaft in Benoni nr Johannesburg, unknown number refuse to come up fearing arrest – 160214 1725z

  1. NEWS CONFERENCE
    (Paraphrased) Rescuers created situation where miners can come out, rescue effort being scaled down, now in hands of the police. 11 rescued. Others can come out if the want. Those rescued are thought healthy. Rescuers say the are there to save life regardless of the fact those rescued are illegal miners. Spox says not really sure how many left underground, can only confirm number that come out. News Conference was broadcast live on Sky News – just ended

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