Rescue operations for trapped miners stop briefly after two more quakes

2018-05-04 18:08

Two more quakes have rocked Sibanye-Stillwater’s mine in Driefontein, near Carletonville, where rescue operations were under way on Friday to save three workers trapped underground.

One of the seismic events reportedly occurred about three kilometres from where the rescue team had been operating.

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted confirmed on eNCA that at least four mineworkers had been killed at the mine in relation to a seismic event at the mine on Thursday.

He said that a quake measuring 2.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at its Masakhane mine, resulting in 13 people being trapped.

Six people were rescued and were treated in hospital but three others were yet to be located.

Wellsted said rescue operation workers were briefly withdrawn following the latest seismic events.

“[The rescuers] will be put back in soon once we have done our assessment. We pulled them out for safety.”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) expressed its anger at the events and had previously accused the company of negligence.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines have experienced a series of onsite accidents that have either resulted in fatalities, injuries or trapped miners.

In March this year, 79 mineworkers were trapped underground at the Kloof Thuthukani Shaft in Westonaria after a material car fell into the shaft.

The union said that data showed that nearly a third of fatalities in the mining industry since January had occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater mines.

“The NUM is angry and concerned at the rate at which mining incidents are happening at Sibanye-Stillwater,” the union said in a statement on Friday.

“We send our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased mineworkers during this difficult time. May their soul rest in peace.”’

Wellsted said they were in the process of contacting the families of the four miners who had died.

“We informed as many as we could last night. Some of them are from Mozambique and other rural areas in South Africa which are difficult to contact, but that’s a priority for us.”

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May 19 2019