75 escape mine inferno

At least 75 workers were yesterday rescued unharmed after they were trapped underground on Monday night following a fire at Mimosa Mine, the countrys second largest platinum producer.

According to information at hand, firemen were by yesterday evening still struggling to put out the inferno, which gutted equipment at the mine.

Sources at the mine said initially 106 workers were trapped underground following the
accident.

Twenty-one escaped immediately after the accident, leaving 75 staring death in the eyes.
National Mine Workers Union head Shadreck Pelewelo was quoted as saying 20 miners were rescued shortly after the incident, which caused a fire at the platinum mine located about 400km south-west of Harare.

Aquarius Platinum Limited, which jointly owns the mine with South Africa-based Impala Platinum, confirmed the incident at the Zvishavane-based mining company.

It said the inferno was caused when the conveyor belt in the main decline (underground equipment) caught fire on Monday night, leaving miners trapped before being evacuated.

The cost of the damage could not be ascertained at the time of going to print last night.

Implats and Aquarius Platinum confirm that a fire occurred at the jointly-owned Mimosa
operation in Zimbabwe during the night, read part of the statement.

This was caused when the conveyor belt in the main decline ignited.

The fire has been contained. All employees have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported.

The majority of the workforce was evacuated following the incident. Initially 75 employees were accommodated in refuge bays due to low visibility.
They are now in the process of being moved to surface.

This is expected to be completed during the course of the afternoon.

The sources said although there were no reports of physical harm, some mine workers complained of headaches, which could have resulted from gas fumes inhaled while they were trapped underground, and fatigue.

Mimosa is the countrys second largest platinum company and produces 20% of the Impala and Aquarius output.

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