More than 600 mine workers rescued from underground blaze
More than 600 mineworkers were successfully rescued after an underground fire at the Gold One Mine in Springs on Thursday‚ the department of mineral resources has said.
A statement from minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe said the blaze occurred in the early hours of the morning.
"At the time of the accident‚ 644 employees were underground. All of the employees evacuated to the mine's refuge bays‚ where they were rescued from and brought to surface‚" the statement read.
Mantashe commended rescue teams for the speedy operation.
“We commend all the rescue teams involved‚ as well as the mine employees and management‚ for their swift action in ensuring that we avert a potential disaster‚” he said.
“We reiterate our call to mining companies to prioritise the safety of mineworkers‚ and to ensure that everyone adheres to the guidelines provided for safety at the mines‚” he added.
This incident comes just days after six mineworkers were killed in an underground fire at the Palabora Copper Mine in Limpopo. Only one mineworker was successfully rescued.
At the time‚ head of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) Joseph Mathunjwa criticised the rescue teams‚ saying they were unprepared. "The proto team at the mine itself was reportedly not ready to complete the rescue. Therefore another proto team from the Burgersfort area had to be called in‚" Mathunjwa said last week.
Without proper gear‚ the rescue teams were not able to conduct the rescue efforts in the blazing conditions.
"The proto team could not stay down long enough due to the high temperatures. They were wearing ice jackets‚ which only protect them for a limited time‚" he said.