SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The suspected methane explosion at an abandoned gold mine in South Africa has killed at least 31 people, said officials belonging to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).
The incident took place on 18th May, 2023 in a ventilation shaft at an abandoned site in the gold mining town of Welkom, around 260 kilometres from the capital city of Johannesburg. The government had then described the incident as “a unique and strange situation”. DMRE concluded that the excessively high levels of methane in the ventilation shaft of the mine led to the explosion, killing the illegal gold miners operating at the site.
According to DMRE spokesperson, illegal miners have been able to retrieve at least three dead bodies, which suggests that 28 are still believed to be underground. It is too risky to dispatch a search team to the shaft now, he noted. The victims of the incident are believed to be illegal gold miners from neighboring Lesotho.
Although Lesotho’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had alerted about the incident, an official response from the South African administration has come only now. The reason for the delay is unknown.
The mine was previously owned by Harmony Gold, which stopped operations at the site in the 1990s.
Thousands of illegal gold miners work in abandoned sites in the country in search for gold, under dangerous conditions, without following safety protocols.
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