Workers Trapped Down South African Goldmine

Miners trapped

"Everybody's out", said spokesman James Wellsted, adding that there were "cases of dehydration and high blood pressure but nothing serious".

According to local news channel eNCA, the mine had generators but there were fears they might trip while bringing the miners up. Wellsted told Xinhua that all the miners were hoisted to the ground at 5 a.m.

The workers had been trapped underground since Wednesday after a storm knocked out the electrical supply and back-up generators failed to work. Operators are now trying to restore power to the shaft so that the miners can leave.

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Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa had urged his members not to report for duty on Monday, so they could recover and receive counselling.

While the blackout was caused by a storm, the committee believes the mine should have had a backup plan.

One of them was Patience Ntswayi, whose husband was working the night shift on Wednesday night.

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"This is a very unusual occurrence". Several ambulances arrived on-site overnight, said an AFP reporter at the scene. More than 60 of the miners have so far been rescued, but 955 are still trapped. The mining company reportedly wanted to avoid miners being stuck in cages should the power supply cut.

Food and water is being delivered to those trapped in the mine, which is run by the Sibanye-Stillwater company - the largest individual producer of gold in the country.

Mine safety is a perennial concern in South Africa, which operates some of the world's deepest and most risky mines.

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Covered in a blanket and patiently waiting outside the mine on Thursday night, a visibly shaken Ntswayi said she was in the dark about her husband's situation. And although the others remain underground, officials said all of them are safe.

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