Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 11:29 UK

More bodies in South Africa mine

Gold miners
South Africa is one of the world's biggest gold producers

The bodies of another 25 people have been found in a disused South African gold mine, where 36 illegal miners were killed in a fire at the weekend.

"The bodies are not burnt. It seems more of a case of gas or smoke inhalation," said Tom Smith from Harmony, which owns the Eland mine.

He said the bodies had been found by other miners, as the abandoned shaft was too dangerous for the firm's staff.

Harmony says nearly 300 illegal miners were arrested in the area recently.

Illegal mining is rife in South Africa where prospectors often sneak past security at one mine and then exit from a different shaft miles away.


The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says the authorities have launched an investigation to establish how many people have died.

Mr Smith said the bodies had been recovered from depths of up to 1.4km (0.9 miles) underground, reports the Reuters news agency.

"I don't know if there are any more bodies down there, we just have to wait," he said.

It is not the first time the remains of illegal miners have been found in the same shaft in Free State.

Two weeks ago five bodies were recovered and in 2007, 25 illegal miners died in a similar underground fire.

South Africa is one of the world's biggest gold producers.

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