/ 24 October 2007

Team rescues 37 of 54 trapped Australian miners

Thirty-seven of 54 miners trapped by fire underground at an Australian gold mine have been rescued, local media reported on Wednesday.

There were no injuries and the mine’s rescue team were expected to have the remaining workers back up to the surface within hours, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on its website.

The fire broke out in a caterpillar truck working underground at the Kanowna Belle gold mine in Western Australia, 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 undergound at the time proceeded to the refuge chambers,” the company said in a statement.

”The site mine rescue team with regional assistance is in attendance and is in the process of bringing the employees to the surface,” it said.

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 one kilometre 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 dead bodies of 23 illegal miners after a fire in a gold mine. – Reuters