Eight miners rescued from South African gold mine, nine remain trapped, missing

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Originally published on February 5, 2014

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Eight miners trapped in a goldmine fire near Johannesburg were rescued on Wednesday (February 5) while nine others remain missing.

The fire broke out on Tuesday evening in a Harmony Gold's mine 1.7km underground Doornkop, 30km west of Johannesburg.

The National Union of Mineworkers said in a statement that seismic activity dislodged rocks and damaged pipes and power cables, triggering a fire in the tunnel. Eight mine workers who had escaped into a 'rescue bay' equipped with oxygen tanks and water were later brought to the surface. Nine miners remain trapped underground.

Rescue teams were sent underground but could not gain access to the affected area because of smoke and a rock fall, according to a company spokesman.

Mining is a vital part of South Africa's economy, yet South African gold mines are among the deepest and the most unstable in the world. The Doornkop mine is located on the west rand, which is rich with gold.

A fire in a Harmony mine in 2009 killed 82 workers, most of them from suffocation.

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