UPDATE: Police launch investigation after mine shaft tragedy
UPDATE: The rescue operation team has just brought 13 more bodies to the surface at Gloria Mine.
"They couldn't continue due to severe smoke which prohibited them. They will apparently continue on Monday, February 25."
The total number of bodies retrieved to date now stands at 18. - Brig Leonard Hlati
BLINKPAN - Members of the South African Police Service in Blinkpan near Middelburg have opened an inquest docket after five bodies were retrieved from the Gloria mineshaft. The sequence of events suggests that an unknown number of people trespassed into the mine between Sunday and Wednesday, February 3 - 6. Police were summoned to the scene.
Two people were retrieved from inside the mine yesterday. One died and the other was hospitalised. He is in a stable condition.
The area has since been declared a crime scene and was cordoned off. Mine Rescue Services, as well as other relevant role-players, are currently at the scene. Four more bodies were retrieved this morning.
According to information from the community, more people might still be trapped.
Mine officials indicated that retrieval efforts are being hampered by the mineshaft being unsafe due to insufficient ventilation. Operations will resume after the electricity supply to the shaft has been fixed. Apparently, the electricity supply has been discontinued as a result of excessive cable theft.
Pending statements, a 'tempering with infrastructure' investigation will also be conducted.
The Mpumalanga Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Mondli Zuma, has strongly cautioned members of the community to steer clear of illegal mining or entering into mine shafts without authority as it is illegal and dangerous. Zuma further said that, as part of the investigation, a post mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.