After a storm hit on Wednesday night (Jan. 31), 955 miners became trapped in the Beatrix Mine after an electrical cable outage stopped lifts from working. Mine authorities worked to restore the power supply and were able to rescue all the mine workers at 6:30 AM on Friday (Feb. 2). The Sibanye Gold Beatrix Mine is located in Theunissen in the Free State of South Africa.

None of the miners experienced any serious injury but were suffering from exhaustion. The mine workers did have access to water and food during their ordeal, although some suffered from dehydration and others suffered high blood pressure.

Storm downs two Eskom power lines at mine

After the storm downed two power lines supplying the mine, lifts stopped working and miners were unable to leave. However, after an ordeal of more than 24 hours, they have finally been rescued.

It was confirmed Friday morning that all the miners were back on the surface. Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa, told News24 that the miners were receiving medical check-ups and that no serious injuries were sustained. Management will be holding a meeting at the mine once all workers have been checked.

James Wellsted, a spokesman for the Sibanye Gold mine, confirmed that some of the workers suffered from dehydration, while others had high blood pressure.

Reportedly, 16 of the older workers did require drips. Wellsted said counseling was being provided to the workers and their families as required.

Wellsted added that while the mine workers were trapped for some time and are exhausted, he said they were in a well-ventilated area of the mine. Constant contact had been kept up with the miners, who were never in any danger.

Other miners had been rescued over the course of a day, with 272 workers rescued on Thursday (Feb. 1) from shaft four and a further 64 from shaft one, but this still left the 955 who were still trapped underground.

Power restored to mine early Friday morning

Power was finally restored at 2:30 AM Friday and most of the other miners were rescued by 5.00 AM.

The other seven mine workers were back above ground by 6:30 AM.

Mineral resources committee calls for action

As reported by Times Live, the portfolio committee on mineral resources in Parliament criticized the power outage and resulting ordeal suffered by the miners. While the blackout was caused by a storm, the committee believes the mine should have had a backup plan.

Sahlulele Luzipo, the chairperson, said it is unacceptable that a power outage could hit an underground mine which relies on electricity. He said this demonstrates the mine management’s attitude towards safety. The committee went on to call for a better explanation of the situation, urging the Department of Mineral Resources to take drastic actions against such “acts of carelessness.”

Once the news was reported that the miners had been rescued, friends and family members started gathering at the mine to welcome their loved ones. They were reportedly forced to wait outside the mine entrance, waiting for news after they and reporters were prevented from entering the site.