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Miners trapped: More than 200 illegal miners trapped in South Africa

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Rescuers are working hard and as fast as possible to try and rescue miners trapped in an abandoned gold mine shaft near Johannesburg in South Africa, per UPI on Feb. 16, 2014. Emergency workers first started working to unearth a group of at least 30 miners, but they stopped after rescuing 12 and are told there are more than 200 still trapped.

"They told us there are about 200 others trapped further below," ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak told Reuters. "It's an abandoned mine shaft in the middle of the public veld (open fields) ... it was not a blocked-off area," he said, adding that no injuries or casualties had been reported so far.

A number of the miners are said to fear coming out of the mine due to not wanting to be arrested because they were mining illegally.

SEE: Craigslist murder: 19-year-old girl says she stopped counting her murders at 22

"They will be offered rescue should they decide to come out," he told BBC News. "But they will be arrested should they come to the surface again."

Rescue officials still can't confirm if others are trapped in a deeper level of the mine. It has been said that "numerous" rescue vehicles and lifting equipment was deployed. Workers were working on lifting a very large rock from the opening of the mine that had the minders trapped.

Once the miners are no longer trapped, they will be inspected by medics and then turned over to the police for questioning.

The mine shaft in question belongs to a Chinese owned company called Gold One.

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