More than 200 illegal miners are trapped in an abandoned gold shaft near Johannesburg, South Africa, local officials said Sunday.
The miners have been in the mine near Benoni Central Business District, about 30 miles outside of Johannesburg, since Saturday, South African emergency services officials said.
Police said they were monitoring the field when they heard cries coming from the mine and discovered the 200 were trapped below layers of boulders.
Werner Vermaak of ER24 emergency services told Reuters rescuers were communicating with a group of about 30 miners trapped below the surface by fallen boulders at the old mine site in Benoni.
“They told us there are about 200 others trapped further below,” Vermaak said.”It’s an abandoned mine shaft in the middle of the public veld (open fields) … it was not a blocked-off area,” he said, adding that no injuries or casualties had been reported so far.
Emergency service crews are trying to lower water down to the miners and said paramedics will assess the miners once they are freed and provide necessary medical attention.
Illegal mining is common in South Africa, and miners often live underground in dangerous conditions in order unearth precious ore.
Heavily armed officers present at the illegal mine in Benoni. Rescue has begun. ER24 on scene and ready. pic.twitter.com/OjjSwWj3Py
- ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd ® (@ER24EMS) February 16, 2014
— Rohit Kachroo and Elisha Fieldstadt