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UPDATE: Workers trapped in ArcelorMittal building collapse found dead

The steel firm said that a portion of a 90-meter stack caved in and fell onto a battery control room where the trio were working in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

FILE: ArcelorMittal South Africa logo. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – Metalworkers union Numsa has confirmed that three of its workers who were trapped at ArcelorMittal's Vanderbijlpark operation have died.

They were trapped after the building they were in collapsed following an explosion on Wednesday morning.

Rescue teams worked throughout the night to locate the trio.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said that the families of the miners were anxiously hoping that their loved ones would be found alive.

"We are convinced that had it not been for the intense efforts of workers themselves, who volunteered and risked their own lives and took the initiative through the massive pile of rubble to locate the workers trapped under the building, we would not have been able to recover these bodies."

SAFETY CONCERNS

ArcelorMittal is trying to work out what led to the collapse of one of its buildings that trapped the three employees at the company's Vanderbijlpark operation.

The steel firm said that a portion of a 90-meter stack caved in and fell onto a battery control room where the trio were working in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

ArcelorMittal said that it was investigating the cause of the collapse.

But a man has told Eyewitness News that workers had been concerned about their safety at the plant for years now.

“The company is always not really following the protocols that they are teaching us. I mean, you can’t teach me safety but when it's time for the company to practice that safety, they don’t.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has made it clear that it was not pleased with the company.

Numsa's Hlubi-Majola said: “The management was reluctant to call for help outside of ArcelorMittal. They felt that they had enough resources within the company to do the rescue, but we felt that what was in the company was not sufficient and certainly not moving fast enough."

She's urged government to investigate the incident.

"As Numsa, we are calling on the Department of Employment and Labour to embark on a detailed and thorough investigation of this incident. We have a long and painful history with ArcelorMittal and its brutal management, which has demonstrated time and time again that black lives do not matter. This is the same management which previously dismissed a Numsa shop steward for exposing poor health and safety protocols in the company."

At the time of this report, Eyewitness News had reached ArcelorMittal, but the company said it would send out a media statement later in the day.

ArcelorMittal also said it had been supporting the families of the affected employees.

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