Lily mine: miners still missing

iolsa SI Lily Mine Accident05.JPG Independent Media Family and friends of the three trapped mineworkers pray for their safe return near the entrance to Vantage Goldfields Lily Mine, where rescue operations are under way to locate and recover the missing three. Pictures: Phill Magakoe

Cape Town – The operation at Lily mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga, to rescue three workers who are trapped underground when the mine collapsed on Friday morning is still ongoing.

According to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has been on site since the collapse occurred, the miners were still trapped by lunchtime on Tuesday, the rescue operation continues, and there was no change to the situation.

Read: Trapped miners: Zuma urges prayers

Amcu’s spokesperson Manzini Zungu wasn’t immediately available, but another union official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “The mood on site is very difficult, but our president Joseph Mathunjwa has been there since Friday to give moral support. According to the report on the ground there has been no changes. The longer it takes to rescue them puts their lives in danger”.

The union official also said that rumours of a power cut that halted rescue operations on Monday night were untrue.

“I was there myself until midnight yesterday. There was nothing like that,” she said.

The Department of Mineral Resources did not respond to questions put to it.

The three mine-workers, since named as Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza and Solomon Nyarenda, were buried underground when a lamp room, inside a container, in which they were working was swallowed by a sinkhole after a crown pillar collapsed underground on Friday morning.

They have been trapped without food for four days and four nights.

But on Monday, rescuers reported to have heard audible sounds that suggested signs of life under the ground.

Mine Rescue Services CEO Christo de Klerk was reported to have said: “[rescuers] heard knocking and decided to switch all the machines off to have absolute silence in the mine, and (then they) knocked against some piping. A little while later there was a response from deep inside the mine”.

Government has since issued the mine with a closure notice until the rescue is finalized and investigations are complete.

There were reports on Tuesday morning that the rescue operation was in a critical stage and the families of the three were still camping and praying, hoping their loved ones will be rescued alive.

In 2010, 33 mine-workers were rescued alive in a Chile after 69 days of being trapped underground.

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