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South Africa - Miners Found Alive

When a fire broke out in one of the mine shafts of the Buffelsfontein gold mine in Stilfontein on Wednesday, the 22nd of March, there were 136 miners in the shaft at the time. Evacuations began immediately but, with a fire blazing in the shafts, ten miners were unaccounted for. Finally some 20 hours after the fire broke out, the ten missing men have been found.

The missing miners were found alive and relatively unscathed two kilometers underground. While they will all be treated for smoke inhalation it seems that there are no serious injuries amongst them. The ten will be better examined when they reach the surface. The biggest complaint amongst the group was one of hunger.

The North West mine was rocked by an earthquake in March last year and has since faced allegations by the trade union of having diminished structural stability and economic viability. However Simmer and Jack have denied the allegations and mining activities have continued. While the exact cause of the fire is unknown, it is thought to have been started by an electrical fault at approximately 11pm on Wednesday. The fire blazed on a single stope in the number seven shaft and lasted more than 20 hours.

So far only nine of the 136 miners who were in the shaft have needed treatment for smoke inhalation. Since most of the miners are not from the surrounding areas their families were not on the scene.


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