24 bodies retrieved from Free State mine

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Eland Shaft, a mine shaft emanating from Harmony Gold mining operations. Twenty-four bodies have been retrieved from the shaft after a gas explosion.

Eland Shaft, a mine shaft emanating from Harmony Gold mining operations. Twenty-four bodies have been retrieved from the shaft after a gas explosion.

WELKOM – The search for more miners continues in a Welkom mine after 24 bodies were retrieved, Free State police said on Tuesday.

“Thirteen more bodies have been retrieved, which brings the number to 24. The mine’s security company is busy retrieving the bodies.

"At this time we have no idea who the people are. Some have name tags on so in some cases we have names,” police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Thandi Mbambo said.

READ: Sanco urges action after death of illegal miners at Harmony mine

Mbambo said that none of those retrieved had been formally identified and their state of decomposition would make this process challenging.

SAPS had also as yet been unable to locate potential families of those found with name tags on their bodies.

“We are not sure how many people are trapped inside but they [the mine] expect that there could be more. For now the search continues,” said Mbambo

She said the police were investigating the deaths of 24 people and have opened an inquest case.

READ: More than 60 illegal miners died underground in Free State since March

At around 10am on Monday, the mine security informed the police of the bodies that had been retrieved underground from the Eland Shaft mine in Welkom, Mbambo said.

“This follows an apparent explosion underground on Thursday 11 May. The cause of the explosion is not yet known and will form part of the investigation,” Mbambo said.