Africa

Rescue under way for South Africa miners after building collapse

rescue operations at lily mine Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The mine's operation manager has called what happened "a freak accident"

A major rescue operation is under way after a building collapsed at the surface of a gold mine in South Africa, blocking off the main entrance.

Three people, thought to have been in the building at the time, are still missing after the incident at the mine near the north-eastern town of Barberton, emergency services say.

More than 70 workers had to use an emergency exit to reach the surface.

South Africa's deep gold mines often pose serious safety issues.

Last year, 77 workers were killed in various mining accidents, the lowest number on record.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescue vehicles have gone to the scene

The three missing workers were in the lamp room near the surface of the mine at the time of the incident, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said in a statement on its website.

There have been conflicting interpretations of the incident.

The operations manager for the Lily mine Mike Begg told local media that 84 workers had escaped and that five were missing, describing what happened as "a freak accident".

Meanwhile, AMCU said that 75 employees were successfully rescued, and that it was "outraged at another terrible mining disaster".

It said that more than 50 family members of those involved in the incident were now waiting outside the entrance of the site for their loved ones.

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