Johannesburg, Feb 17: The rescue operation was launched Sunday for about 200 illegal miners trapped underground here in South Africa.
The first large rock that sealed the small opening of the old mine had been removed just shortly before 3 P.M., Xinhua quoted the police as saying.
Since the emergency department joined the efforts to free those trapped miners at the mine shaft near Benoni in Johannesburg early this morning, many heavy-duty rescue vehicles and equipment had been brought to the scene.
About 30 miners are trapped in the top section of the deserted mine, while another 200 odd in another section below them, according to police.
The rescue people tried to send bottles of water down to the trapped miners after rushing to the scene, but failed.
They however were able to verbally communicated with the miners trapped in the upper section.
They said that no one of them was injured. However, it was still unclear about the health condition of the miners in the lower section.
The ambulances have been on the scene, preparing for the injured miners.
Hearing the cries for help as patrolling the open veld for illegal dumping at the deserted mine, police found illegal miners trapped beneath several layers of boulders which were allegedly thrown by a rival group after they were robbed of their gold Saturday afternoon.