/ 24 October 2007

All 54 trapped Australian gold miners rescued

All 54 miners trapped by fire underground at a gold mine in Western Australia have been rescued, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Wednesday.

The ABC’s website said all 54 had been recovered and local authorities had begun an investigation into the incident.

The fire broke out in a caterpillar truck working underground at the Kanowna Belle gold mine, forcing the miners to shelter in refuge stations, Barrick Gold Corporation said.

”The fire has been extinguished by the onboard fire-suppression system. As a precautionary measure the 54 employees working underground at the time proceeded to the refuge chambers,” the company said in a statement.

Kanowna Belle, 20km north-east of the outback mining town of Kalgoorlie, boasts a rich lode containing more than 14-million ounces of gold.

In 2006, 17 miners were working in the Beaconsfield gold mine on the southern Australian island of Tasmania when it collapsed. Fourteen escaped at once, one was killed, and the remaining two were rescued after surviving for two weeks about 1km underground.

A series of mining accidents in China and South Africa this month killed almost 40 miners. Sixteen Chinese coal miners were found dead after being trapped underground for more than 30 hours, while South African police recovered the bodies of 23 miners after a fire in a gold mine. — Reuters