Number of Gloria coal mine deaths increases to 18 after rescuers recover 13 bodies

THE number of illegal miners killed in a gas explosion that occurred at the disused Gloria coal mine increased to 18 after rescuers recovered 13 more bodies, said BusinessLive citing a report by AFP, a newswire service.

The mine is near the town of Middelburg in Mpumalanga. More than 20 people went into the mine, reputedly to steal copper cables, said AFP. Michael Elliott, who is co-ordinating the rescue operations, told the newswire service that four bodies were initially brought out shortly after the explosion, and a fifth fatality died in hospital.

“Today’s retrieval brings the total number of bodies brought to the surface to 18,” police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said in a statement. “These are bodies of people who … went into a mine shaft where they allegedly intended to steal copper cables”.

He said another group forced its way into the mine apparently to rescue the trapped people, but “suffered the same fate”. Elliot said another nine are believed to still be inside the mine, according to information gathered from the local community.