Four mineworkers were killed with one seriously injured after a rock collapse at a gold mine in the North West province of South Africa.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) criticized the Village Main Reef’s Tau Lekoa gold mine in a statement at the incident followed at least one earth tremor, adding that “there was no escape route in the working area where the four mineworkers were found dead”.
The union also alleged that the mine’s proto team – a group of workers trained to perform underground rescues – did not act quickly enough to save the four miners and “deliberately stopped the team leaders and winch drivers from rescuing them.”
Village Main Reef said it would not comment on the evacuation procedures until after an investigation was completed.
“There were two seismic events and then a rockfall occurred,” said James Duncan, a spokesman for the mine.
NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said the rock collapse followed a “seismic event of 2.6 magnitude”.
According to the Mineral Resources Ministry, the death toll in South Africa’s mines fell to 81 fatalities last year from 90 in 2017.