950 gold miners trapped underground in South Africa

About 950 gold miners were stuck underground in South Africa on Thursday after a power cut, the mine’s owner said, though the workers were not reported to be in immediate danger. The Sibanye-Stillwater mining company said a massive power outage caused by a storm had prevented lifts from bringing the night shift to the surface at the Beatrix gold mine, in the small town of Theunissen near the city of Welkom. “We have got 955 employees still underground, they are in a confined and safe area, it’s the shaft waiting area (and) there is ventilation, we are supplying them with water and food,” James Wellsted, spokesman for Sibanye-Stillwater, told AFP. “So everybody is fine at the moment. We are trying to restore power so we can start hoisting them to the surface,” he said, speaking on the phone from the mine. He said the depth where the miners were trapped was uncertain, but the mine has 23 levels, going down to about 1,000 metres (3280 feet) below ground. One cable was restored during the day and 272 workers were rescued, but 955 remained trapped by early evening, the company said. They have been underground for over 24 hours and nervous family members patiently gathered along the road to the shaft, kept a distance by security guards. A generator at the shaft had started working. “The last time I heard from him was at 9:00 pm (1900 GMT on Wednesday). We believe nobody is hurt. But it is becoming long. The… [Read full story]

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