Trapped South Africa mine workers 'still alive'

Locals wait outside the Lily mine, which is owned by Vantage Goldfields, near Barberton, east of Johannesburg Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Concerned locals have been waiting near the mine for news of the rescue operation

There are signs that the three people trapped in a South African gold mine following an accident last week are still alive, rescuers say.

The workers are stuck in the lamp room, buried under tonnes of rubble which fell after a building collapsed into the mine on Friday.

The rescue team says they have got a response to tapping sounds that they made from above.

This had given the mine owners "immense hope" that the workers are still alive.

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More than 70 miners managed to escape from underground using an emergency exit after Friday's accident at Lily Mine near the north-eastern town of Barberton.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Paramedics are standing by at the mine

"We've started seeing indications that we're getting close to this lamp room," one of the mine managers Mike Begg told South Africa's Eyewitness News.

Mr Begg added that the aim now was to reach the room.

The accident is thought to have been caused when one of the mine's supporting pillars collapsed causing a building at the mine's entrance to fall into a sinkhole.

Rescue workers have already removed 3,500 tonnes of debris but there are still 10,000 tonnes to get rid of, the local newspaper the Barberton Times quotes the head of the rescue team Christo De Klerk as saying.

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