A gas explosion that occurred in the abandoned Gloria coal mine in South Africa has claimed the lives of six people and trapped at least 20 others.
The mine is located in Middelburg, east of Pretoria, and is owned by Tegeta Resources and Exploration.
Tegeta is undergoing creditor protection after its owners, the Gupta brothers, could not continue doing business in South Africa following corruption allegations.
The BBC reported local government official Speedy Mashilo as telling South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC: “We’re still waiting for engines and generators to arrive to start putting oxygen into the ground.”
At that time when the gas pipe exploded, some people were inside the mine to steal underground copper wires.
High levels of toxic gas disrupted rescue efforts, which would be supported by engineers by rigging up lighting in the shafts of the Gloria coal mine.
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Police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi said that one of the two people who was brought to the surface during rescue operations died, while the other had survived.
Hlathi told TimesLIVE: “Family members and members of the community have been begging us to let them go down and recover the people who are trapped there. But we have had to explain to them that it is too dangerous.”
In October last year, two separate mining accidents killed one worker at the Dishaba mine near Thabazimbi, and the second at the Kopanang operation on the West Rand, taking the total number of mining deaths in South Africa to 71.
More than 80 fatalities were recorded in South African mines in 2017.