Hundreds of miners are trapped underground at a site in South Africa after an accident caused a shaft exit to become blocked.
Some 1,800 miners are still trapped under the earth, with emergency services currently attending the scene at the Thembelani shaft in Rustenburg, run by mining company Sibanye Stillwater.
The miners became trapped at midday on Tuesday after some rails that were being transported underground came loose and fell, blocking the exit to the mine.
No serious injuries have been reported.
Workers are removing the rails and examining the shaft for any structural damage.
Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said that if the shaft is damaged, the workers would have to exit via its Khuseleka shaft, which is 4km (2.5 miles) away.
He did not say how long it could take to bring the workers out, adding that they had been given food and water.
The mine’s ministry said it was monitoring the situation and said the shaft’s condition had to be assessed before employees could be hoisted up.
South Africa’s department of mineral resources said plans are underway to free a large number of the miners by hoisting them up an adjoining shaft.
In a statement, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said its “prayers are with the mineworkers and we hope and trust that they will be returned to the surface as soon as possible”.
It added: “We trust that our safety stewards will do their utmost to address the problem.”
Safety is a major issue in South Africa’s deep mines as well as being a concern to investors.
In May 2018, an earthquake at Sibanye’s gold operations killed seven miners, putting pressure on the firm to improve safety.
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