11 trapped miners rescued from South African mine

Johannesburg, Feb 17: Eleven of the more than 200 illegal miners trapped in an abandoned gold mine near Johannesburg have been brought to surface, rescuers said Sunday.

The miners were trapped after allegedly being robbed of their gold by rival miners Saturday afternoon at the Gold One shaft in Benoni east of Johannesburg, Xinhua reported.

The rescued miners were going through a medical assessment, said Werner Vermaak, spokesman of emergency agency ER24.

So far no injuries have been reported, according to Vermaak.

Disaster management and emergency officers were still at the scene as the rescue operation continued.

The miners were found on Sunday while emergency services were conducting operations around illegal mining in the area.

Vermaak said earlier that about 30 people were trapped towards the top of the old shaft and the rest down a steep tunnel.

He said rescue workers were able to speak to the miners trapped near the top. The miners reportedly told rescuers that no one was injured. However, the conditions underground were unknown, Vermaak said.

Water was lowered down to the miners who are believed to be about five metres underground.

The incident highlighted the growing concern about illegal mining in the country. In March 2012, at least 20 illegal miners were buried alive after a rockfall hit a closed gold mine in the eastern South African province of Gauteng.

Early last month, 40 illegal miners were rescued after being trapped at a mine shaft, west of Johannesburg.

IANS