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More trapped illegal miners surface

Sapa

Three more illegal miners have surfaced from an abandoned mine in Benoni, on the East Rand, says Ekurhuleni emergency services.

The trapped miners were found on Sunday when Ekurhuleni Metro police on patrol heard screaming from the abandoned mine. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Three more illegal miners surfaced on Tuesday from an abandoned mine in Benoni, emergency services said.

"They resurfaced this morning and were arrested for illegal mining," spokesperson David Tshabalala said.

"In total, 25 have come out so far."

Tshabalala could not say how many more were still underground.

The miners were found on Sunday when Ekurhuleni metro police on patrol heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

Paramedics initially said there were 200 illegal miners trapped in the mine.

Rescue workers abandoned the mission that same night after the remaining men refused to be brought to the surface for fear of being arrested.

Food and water was sent down to them.

Eleven of those rescued appeared in the Benoni Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Brief surfacing
On Monday, one of the illegal miners surfaced but went back underground to talk to his colleagues, emergency services said.

"One of the illegal miners surfaced this morning but went down to try and convince others to come up when he heard the opening would be closed," Tshabalala said.

"The illegal miners did not want to come up.The total of miners that resurfaced today is 11, bringing the overall number to 25. It is unclear how many are still underground."

Tshabalala said the mineral resources department would close the opened shaft in a bid to stop illegal mining, and gave the miners notice about this on Monday.

"We will give those underground ample time to get out, but will have to close it," he said.

By 6.15pm, emergency services suspended their operations. Tshabalala said police and mine security would remain overnight. He said the 11 who resurfaced were not injured.

They were handed to police after medical checks.

Tshabalala said earlier some of the illegal miners came halfway up the shaft, but then turned around.

Rescuers could not go down the shaft because it was too dangerous.

"There is an opening and we sent a chain down that we can pull them up with," said Tshabalala. – Sapa

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