S. Africa: Search continues for 3 missing in mine collapse

BARBERTON, South Africa (AP) — The families of three missing mineworkers sang and prayed at the scene of a collapsed mine in South Africa as rescuers continued their search on Saturday.

The Makonjwaan Lily gold mine collapsed on Friday morning after an underground pillar caved in, trapping 87 miners in the shafts below. On the surface, the collapse caused a sinkhole that swallowed a mobile office container, trapping three more people inside it, said Mike Begg, the mine’s general manager.

Two women and one man were working inside the container, distributing headlamps and safety gear to miners. Teams of rescuers have not yet found the mobile office after a 36-hour search, he said.

“The news is not positive at the moment,” Begg told reporters at the mine in the eastern province of Mpumalanga. “I don’t want to lose anybody so we’re going to find those three people and bring them to the surface so that families can have closure today.”

“It’s a very emotional time,” he added, his eyes filled with tears, his voice cracking as he spoke to reporters. Some relatives only left the scene of the collapse to pray in their cars nearby.

“We want Yvonne to come out to surface,” said Rachel Dlamini, an aunt of one the trapped women, adding that the family will stay at the mine throughout the search. “We are also camping out here, crying to God with all our might for her safe return.”

All the miners were rescued and brought to the surface, Begg said. Paramedics said the rescued miners had no serious injuries and were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

This is the second accident in a South African mine in the past two weeks, said Manzini Zungu, spokesman for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

___

Chutel reported from Johannesburg.

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