Eight miners killed in underground fire after earthquake in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA – Eight gold miners in South Africa died after a magnitude-2.4earthquake triggered an underground fire, and rescue teams operating deep below the surface were searching for a ninth missing miner, a mining company said Thursday. Smoke and a rockfall had hampered searchers struggling to find any survivors after fire broke out 1.7 kilometers underground at the Doornkop mine around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Harmony company said in a statement. The mine is 30 kilometers west of Johannesburg. On Wednesday morning, rescue teams located eight other miners who had sought refuge from the fire and brought all of them to the surface within several hours. On Thursday morning, Harmony announced the discovery of eight bodies. National Union of Mineworkers, a major labor group, said the rockfall had ruptured electrical cables, triggering the fire, and that water and ventilation pipes were also damaged. It called for an urgent investigation. “Our members’ lives must come first. The health and safety measures must be applied,” said Livhuwani Mammburu, a union spokesman. “There is technology available to actively monitor seismicity underground. We wonder if Harmony has got that technology.” James Duncan, a Harmony spokesman, said the company has monitoring equipment. “Seismicity is not an exact science,” Duncan said. “The challenge is to stay abreast of current technology, make sure you have the best that is available and continue to strive for improvement.” South Africa has some of the deepest mines in the world, raising concern about the safety of workers who could be more vulnerable to tremors and other dangers. More

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