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Lily Mine: Families of trapped workers seek closure

It's been seven months since a mine shaft collapsed at the Lily Mine in Barberton.

The dirt road leading to the area where the collapse happened at the Lily mine near Barberton, Mpumalanga. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As today marks exactly seven months since a shaft collapsed at the Lily Mine in Barberton, the families of three workers who are still trapped underground say they are still longing for closure.

Solomon Nyerende, Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi plunged were left trapped when the lamp-room container in which they were working fell into a 60 metre sinkhole at the gold mine in February.

Last week, another attempt to retrieve their mortal remains by Mine Rescue Services, revealed the 600 millimetre rescue shaft and original ventilation shaft, had deteriorated, making it unsafe to enter.

As months go by, the families of the victims have been left wondering whether they will ever be able to bury their loved ones.

Solomon Nyerende's brother, Kennedy, says they are overwhelmed with sadness every day since he disappeared.

"There's no progress at all, we don't know what to say or do. It's just pain, day in and day out."

After visiting the mine last week, Mine Rescue Services says the rescue shaft had been compromised and left the team without a second outlet, forcing them to abort their inspection mission.

MRS Managing Director, Christo de Klerk, says they will be meeting with the deputy Minister of Mineral Resources today, to discuss a way forward.

"We're going to have the meeting with the deputy minister and the management from the mine to discuss the way forward."

Three previous attempts to retrieve the container were aborted soon after the tragedy.