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Gloria coal mine death toll expected to rise

The bodies of seven more people were uncovered on Thursday when rescue teams went underground to search for a group trapped in the abandoned mine.

A member of the mine rescue services inspects the area where a gas explosion occurred which led to six deaths at the Gloria Coal Mine in Mpumalanga on 7 February 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Authorities have described the deaths at the Gloria coal mine as a terrible tragedy.

The bodies of seven more people were uncovered on Thursday when rescue teams went underground to search for a group trapped in the abandoned mine.

This brings to 13 the number of people who have been confirmed dead after suspected criminals entered the mine earlier this month allegedly to steal copper cables.

WATCH: Gloria Coal mine rescue efforts

It's feared the death toll may rise given that 20 more people are still unaccounted for.

Mike Elliot, who represents the business rescue practitioners at the mine, said: “The tragedy is incredible, the rescue teams found two of the people near each other and when they went around searching for more people, they found another five sitting together. It was endangering their [rescue teams] lives so we withdrew them from the mine.”

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