All 955 trapped S. Africa miners resurface unharmed

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JOHANNESBURG —All 955 gold miners who were trapped underground for more than a day in South Africa following a power cut resurfaced unharmed yesterday, the mine’s owner Sibanye Gold said.

“Everybody’s out,” mine spokesman James Wellsted said, adding that there were “cases of dehydration and high blood pressure but nothing serious”.

The miners were stuck in the Beatrix gold mine, in the small town of Theunissen near the city of Welkom, for about 30 hours after a massive power outage caused by a storm prevented lifts from bringing workers on the night shift to the surface.

After several hours engineers were able to restore power, allowing the hoist to bring up the miners — who had been trapped since Wednesday evening — in batches.

The workers were all brought to the surface within two hours.

“It was stressful, there was not enough ventilation,” said mineworker Mike Khonto. “Thankfully our management send us food and water.”

Asked if there had been any casualties, Wellsted said there was “no indication so far that anyone has been in distress” although it had been a “traumatic experience”.

Several ambulances arrived on-site overnight.

At sunrise the workers left by bus after undergoing medical check-ups.

Family members had earlier gathered along the road to the shaft, kept at a distance by security guards as they waited for news.

The accident at Beatrix mine in Free State province, 290km southwest of Johannesburg, has reignited safety concerns at South African mines.

The National Union of Mineworkers has called on mineworkers to refuse to work in “dangerous conditions”.

“Major multinational corporations like Sibanye-Stillwater which should be industry leaders in creating a safety culture are doing far too little to prevent accidents,” the union said. — AFP