Rescue operation at Lily Mine to continue through the night

Three people are still missing after a collapse at the Mpumalanga mine.

Outside the Lily Mine near Barberton in Mpumalanga where more than 100 workers are trapped underground. Picture: Lowveld Media/Barberton Times.

JOHANNESBURG - Rescuers are expected to work through the night to reach three people still trapped underground following this morning's collapse at the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga.

Seventy-nine employees were brought to the surface by lunchtime and rescue operations continue at the shaft in Barberton.

Earlier, Vantage Goldfields Limited reported 115 miners were stuck underground.

It's not yet clear what caused the collapse, but the Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is meeting with management on site this evening.

Zwane is joining health and safety inspectors at the site, after the department said it received conflicting reports about the cause of the accident.

The minister says he is extremely concerned about the seriousness of the collapse.

Departmental spokesperson Martin Madlala says while mine work can be dangerous, mining bosses must do everything they can to mitigate the damage.

"Before we issue a final statement on the causalities of the circumstance, we will engage in the normal investigative processes to make determinations."

Earlier, ER24's Russel Meiring said three workers were still unaccounted for, after the container they were working in was pulled underground.

"Three workers are still missing, as they were working above the surface when the collapse occurred. Mine rescue services as well as paramedics are searching for the missing."