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Renewed hopes of rescue of trapped workers at Lily Mine

Three workers have been stranded 80 metres underground since Friday morning.

Family members of the trapped miners at Lily Mine on 11 February, 2016. Religious leaders pray for the trio and the families. Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.
Lily Mine,Lily Mine collapse,Barberton
Local

BARBERTON – The owners of the Lily Mine in Barberton say they have renewed hope of finding the container in which three workers are trapped after recovering a tyre that was attached to the structure when it collapsed.

Yvonne Mnisi, Solomon Nyerende and Pretty Nkambule have been stranded 80 metres underground since Friday morning.

The recovery of the tyre from one of the draw points underground has lifted the spirits of rescue workers who were frustrated by the lack of progress over the past two days.

The mine's operational manager Mike Begg said, “It was leaning against the foundation on which the container was standing and it has come through a small zone in the draw point in the ground, so it tells us all our assumptions up to date have been right.”
 
The mine’s management has given the first update on the rescue operation in two days.

Both mine bosses and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa say this is still a rescue mission and they have not given up hope of finding the families alive.

“If the families haven’t lost hope then we can’t all lose hope. We are still optimistic and the operation is going well.”

WATCH: Family of trapped miner: It's all in God's hands.  


Last night, the team held an emergency meeting to assess their strategy and say they’ve decided to continue using the same methods to reach the container.

They hope to do this within the next 48 hours.

MINE MANAGERS AND UNION BOSSES GO UNDERGROUND

Mine managers and union bosses have now gone underground where they hope to dislodge more than 20 tonnes of rock preventing access to the container.
 
Officials from the Department of Mineral Resources have joined the mine’s manager and Mathunjwa for the next shift of the rescue operation.
 
The last audio signal sent from the container was received more than 48 hours ago but officials say they remain hopeful that the group will be found alive.

The officials are now about 100 metres underground where a 10 metre rock that weighs up to 20 tonnes is blocking access to the container.

This has been the main obstacle faced by rescue teams. 

Vantange Goldfields CEO Mike McChesney says they’ve had to slow the operation down.

“It’s an extremely dangerous and difficult situation. The situation has changed and that necessitates a slowing down of the removal of the rock. This is very frustrating for all of us.” 

The rescue team is made up of 12 specialists from Mine Rescue SA as well as seven other local staff from the mine.

They expect to remove the rock within 48 hours.

FATHER OF TRAPPED LILY MINER VOWS NOT TO GIVE UP

The absence of signs of life at the mine did not deter the father of one of the workers who said he still believed his daughter would survive.

Mnisi's father Elmond, who is also a Lily Mine employee, said he had not given up hope.

“I’m not hurting because I know God and she comes from God and so do I.”

Elmond told Eyewitness News he wants his daughter to be rescued so that she can continue motivating her peers.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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