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Trapped miners rescued in Australia: officials

Australian rescuers have freed 27 miners trapped underground after a gold mine shaft collapsed early on Monday.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2007 09:50 IST

Australian rescuers freed 27 miners trapped underground after a gold mine shaft collapsed early on Monday, officials said.

The miners were stuck a kilometer underground for more than three hours before rescuers used a crane to haul them to the surface through a ventilation shaft.

None of the men involved in the incident at the Ballarat mine in southern Victoria state was injured, said Ballarat Gold corporate affairs manager Joe Dowling.

"They're all in good spirits, all safe and happy," Dowling said, adding they had been reunited with their families, who had gathered at the mine after news broke of the pre-dawn collapse.

"There are no injuries. I haven't spoken to them, but the indications I had as they were being driven away was they were all comfortable and happy and relieved to be out."

All evacuation procedures had worked as planned, including the use of the ventilation shaft as an escape route, he said.

"Certainly we're very pleased, it showed those evacuation procedures worked well."

Underground operations would be suspended until the cause of the collapse had been investigated, he said.

Last month, 54 Australian gold miners were safely brought to the surface after being trapped underground when a fire broke out at a mine near the Western Australian city of Kalgoorlie.