Violence breaks out at illegal mine

Police say a survivor claims dozens of illegal miners were attacked in a makeshift mine.

Police and rescue workers gather near a makeshift mine near Roodepoort where it's alleged a number of illegal miners were attacked, 7 January 2013. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

ROODEPOORT - Police and emergency services personnel are attending to a makeshift mine on Gauteng's West Rand following violence the in the area.

According to officials, they are investigating claims that several people were killed underground.

A survivor told officers that dozens of illegal miners were inside the shaft when the violence started.

The incident apparently took place on Monday.

The police's Disebo Selepe says the victim claims he and his colleagues were attacked by a gang of five men who wanted to steal their illegally-mined gold.

"The suspects went into the shaft and took gold from other illegal miners and they hit them with iron until they died."

Officials said the 33-year-old victim, who was stabbed in the attack, was taken to hospital.

Police say he is the one who alerted them to the violence.

Authorities cannot confirm any deaths at this stage or whether anyone is being held hostage underground.

Officers are now collecting evidence to establish whether any lives are still at risk, while a search and rescue team is expected to go underground soon.

The area has been cordoned off.

The mine is situated just a few metres away from a main road.

Police are expected to update the public as soon as they have more clarity on the situation.