Four workers killed in fire at Impala Platinum

Impala Platinum says the mine was evacuated but the four men didn't not make it to the surface alive.

Impala Platinum's Marula mine in Limpopo. Picture: www.implats.co.za.

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwani is visiting the families of four miners who died in an underground fire at Impala Platinum Mine in the North West.

Police say the four men died due to smoke inhalation on Friday night.

It is not yet clear what caused the fire.

Impala Platinum's Johan Theron says the mine was evacuated but the four men didn't not make it to the surface alive.

"At this stage we can't get underground as there are dangerous gas levels. We are still struggling to contain and extinguish the fire."

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said in a statement that Impala should improve health and safety conditions, and called on the mines ministry to investigate the cause of the accident.

NUM's health and safety secretary Erick Gcilitshana said, "It is unacceptable that mine workers are denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guarantees their safety and that instead they are expected to go to work to die."

"We are selling our labour for the survival of our families, not our limbs and lives."