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Peter Van Velsen
"They used nothing more than shovels and their bare hands"
 real 28k

The BBC's Greg Barrow
Euphoria among rescuers
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 11:33 GMT
Trapped miners rescued

Miner is carried on a stretcher The nine survivors were taken to hospital


Nine miners who were trapped in a South African gold mine for four days following a rock fall have been brought to the surface.

Rescue workers are still trying to reach two more seriously injured miners and retrieve the bodies of four others who were killed in the accident.


The price of gold
1911-1994
69,000 dead
1m hurt
1997
424 dead
1998
372 dead
1999
313 dead
The nine survivors were brought out on stretchers and taken to hospital for examination. The mine operators, African Rainbow Minerals, said the men were in a stable and satisfactory condition.

But a new rockfall caused a set-back in efforts to reach the two missing miners.

Hopes for their survival are now fading.

A mine spokeswoman said it had not been possible to get medication, water or food to the area where the two men are trapped.

Tremor

The miners were working 2,100 metres (6,900 feet) underground when an earth tremor measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale struck the area on Monday.


mine rescue team Rescuers clawed through tonnes of fallen rock
Rescue teams removed around 450 tonnes of rock, much of it by hand, to reach the miners who endured temperatures as high as 40 C (104 F) with little food and water.

The survivors were trapped in a space 45cm (18 inches high), alongside the bodies of their dead colleagues.

They made contact with the team leader on Tuesday night through a broken compressed air pipe and poured water and liquid food to the survivors.

Of the 15 men, eight were from Lesotho, four were South Africans, two were Mozambicans and one was from Swaziland.

Dangerous industry

South Africa's gold mines, which made the country the richest in Africa, are among the world's deepest, and have a notoriously high accident rate.

About 69,000 miners died in accidents and more than a million were injured between 1911 and 1994.

Last year, South Africa signed a mining safety convention which set out international standards for ensuring health and safety.

However, trade unions say these standards are still not being properly enforced.

In July last year, 19 miners were killed in a methane gas explosion.

South Africa's worst mining disaster was in 1986, when 177 workers were killed in a fire at a mine east of Pretoria.

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Africa
The human cost of gold
11 Jan 00 |  Africa
Rescuers inch towards trapped miners
13 Jul 99 |  The Economy
Gold mining: In the devil's workplace
12 Jan 00 |  Business
The gold market is fun again

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