All 955 Trapped Miners in Free State, South Africa, Safely Rescued

The more than 900 mineworkers who were trapped underground for over 24 hours at Sibanye’s Beatrix Gold Mine near Theunissen in the Free State have all been safely rescued Friday morning, according to an SABC report (see below).

Sixty-five miners had already been rescued yesterday in a very slow operation that allowed for only one miner to be rescued at a time. The miners had become trapped after a severe storm on Wednesday night caused a power outage, and the elevators to the surface stopped working.

Eskom restored power at around 03h00 Friday morning and by 06h30 the last seven men were successfully brought to the surface.

In interviews with the SABC the men said they were feeling “very bad” as they had gone nearly three days without food. They claimed there was no communication until around 02h00 Friday morning. One miner said they had heard food was on the way, but it never came. “They did give us water… on Friday morning,” he said.

Another younger miner said it was his first time being trapped underground and he spent most of the time thinking of his family. Many of the miners were stressed he said. There was “nothing we could do… and no communication”. He was very happy to be out of the mine.

One miner’s wife told of how her heart was aching when she finally saw her husband safe at the surface. “I just cried because of happiness,” she said. The woman added that while her children were waiting alone at home, “these people have been lying to us”, referring to information that officials were talking to the miners when communication was only made at 2am on Friday.

Mine safety experts are questioning why the mine did not have two separate power supplies for the lifts, or an alternative option to exit the mine.