A race against time to rescue trapped Lily Mine workers

The workers have been trapped without food & water since Friday while rescue efforts continue.

A mineshaft collapsed, trapping miners at the Lily Mine near Barberton in Mpumalanga on 5 February 2015. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

BARBERTON - An intensive rescue effort with specialised teams at the Lily Mine in Barberton are desperately trying to reach three workers trapped underground since Friday morning.

The workers have been trapped with no food or water for four full days and management is describing the situation as critical.

Rescue teams are about 12 metres away from the lamp room metal container in which the men are.

It's stuck between heavy boulders and rubble and workers have been using dynamite to blast through the debris.

The rescue operation is now in a critical stage.

This morning, Lily Mine manager Mike Begg confirmed they received another signal.

"The signals are back again. It's amazing how that just picks up everyone's morale and the adrenalin starts to pump. We're back in."

FAMILY ARRIVES

Outside the mine, workers have arrived to clock in for work. But they've been turned back as operations remain suspended.

Family members of a miner arrived at the scene this morning.

Three elderly women who say they are related to one of the men have arrived to find out what's happening.

The women walked three hours from their village after hearing about the collapse from other miners.

YESTERDAY & OVERNIGHT

There was a glimmer of hope yesterday after audio signals were heard coming from inside the rubble.

But by late afternoon these signals became very fain t and little progress was made in reaching the lamp room where the trio are believed to be.

Overnight, the teams used electromagnets to identify the position of the container, but they have not been able to break through the boulders and rubble.

The mine has been closed while the search and rescue operation is underway, but dozens of workers remain on site to assist with blasting and the excavation of sand.

ZUMA CALLS FOR PRAYERS

President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to pray for the families of three workers trapped underground and has wished rescue teams trying to free them, strength and wisdom.

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola says, "This is a very difficult period for the affected families, says the president, as they await and pray for their loved ones to be fund in good health."