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31 die in deserted South African gold mine

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At least 31 folks, suspected to be unlawful miners, are believed to have died final month in an deserted South African gold mine, the federal government stated on Friday.

The deaths occurred within the air flow shaft at an deserted web site within the gold mining city of Welkom, 260 kilometres (160 miles) from Johannesburg, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) stated.

The fatalities are believed to be unlawful miners who had come from neighbouring Lesotho, a tiny kingdom utterly surrounded by South Africa, it stated.

“We are receiving reports that other suspected illegal miners have assisted in retrieving in at least three bodies, so 28 are believed to still be underground,” DMRE spokesman Ernest Mulibana instructed AFP.

The deaths presumably occurred on May 18, though the trigger stays unknown.

A search crew has not been dispatched to the shaft for security causes, Mr. Mulibana stated.

“Given the high levels of methane, it is currently risky for anyone to go down,” he stated.

Lesotho’s international ministry alerted South Africa’s High Commission in Maseru on June 10, however the incident was solely introduced by Pretoria in an in a single day assertion on Thursday. The cause for the delay was unknown.

The mine was beforehand owned by Harmony Gold Mining Company, considered one of South Africa’s largest producers. It stopped operations within the Nineties.

Thousands of unregistered miners referred to as “zama zamas” function in South Africa, scavenging out of date mines for gold. The circumstances are arduous and infrequently perilous.

“Although this is a unique and strange situation,” a joint effort will “ensure that the suspected deceased illegal miners are brought to the surface,” the DMRE stated.

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