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Miners trapped, up to 200: Some miners refuse rescue, fearful of arrest

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Up to 200 miners are reported trapped in an abandoned gold mine in Johannesburg, South Africa. Emergency workers started the rescue, getting 12 of the miners out, but abruptly stopped, leaving the rest in this one group of about 30 in the mine, according to NBC News on Feb. 16.

These miners were on the site illegally and emergency workers put the remaining number left in this one group at 20 today. Others are said to be trapped deeper within the mine, with estimates rising as high as 200 for the numbers of the workers stuck deep in the bowels of the abandoned shafts.

The exact number of miners is not known, since the groups were all there illegally apparently there was no official count taken on people going in. The number discrepancy is vast for this reason. Rescuers do not fear for the lives of the people who are still in the mine, but there’s no word as to why they stopped the rescue after getting 12 of the miners out.

Rescue vehicles along with lifting equipment were brought into the area, which looks like nothing more than vacant fields. A huge boulder was lifted off the collapsed entrance to the mine. Rescuers were then able to communicate with a group of about 30 miners.

This group was trapped just below the surface by falling boulders and debris. It is not known if there are more miners than the remainder of the group of 30. Once the rest of the group is out, rescue workers plan to go into the mine and look for more survivors of this mine collapse. They will go in deeper than where this first group was found.

So far no fatalities or injuries are reported but if there are 200 trapped below the surface even deeper, there’s no telling the condition they are in. Some of the miners are resisting rescue because they are afraid of being arrested. The miners who have been rescued will have medical evaluations and then be turned over to police.

The mine is owned by Gold One, a Chinese company. The illegal miners dug an access tunnel, which collapsed behind them probably due to the heavy rain in the area in recent days. This type of illegal mining is prevalent with some miners actually living underground to be near the precious metal they are mining for.



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