More than 100 people were unaccounted for after a gold mine in Mpumalanga province in northeastern South Africa caved in, a union official said on Friday, while emergency services said 49 miners had so far been brought to the surface.
South Africa’s mines are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world.
Manzini Zungu, spokesman for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), said some 115 union members were trapped underground after a cave-in at the Makonjwaan Gold Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga province, at 8.40am (0640 GMT).
“At this point it’s unclear what caused the disaster,” he said
The mine is located about 360km east of Johannesburg.
A spokesman for the ER24 rescue service said 49 miners had so far been brought to the surface, and that they had sustained only minor injuries.
Fatalities in the industry have been falling due to both improved safety practices and a reduction in the labour force as production declines.
Last year, 77 workers were killed in mining accidents, the lowest number on record.