3,000 Mine Workers Trapped

Men under 1.4-mile shaft may be losing air, union spokesman fears
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2007 4:52 PM CDT
Miners work underground at the Harmony Goldmine, near Carletonville, South Africa, in this Wednesday Oct. 27, 2004 file photo. Some 3,000 miners were trapped underground when a water pipe burst and probably...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – More than 3,000 mine workers are trapped in South Africa after a broken water pipe collapsed a key shaft, MSNBC reports. Managers at Harmony Gold Mining, the world's third-largest gold producer, reported no injuries and promised to rescue the men within 24 hours. A spokeswoman said the pipe broke "due to fatigue" and fell down the 1.4-mile shaft.

Management claims to be in contact with the men, saying they currently have air and water. But a union spokesman argues that communication with the men died hours ago. He also fears that they may be losing oxygen after the collapse. "It's a terrible situation," he says. "The only exit is blocked." He added that the mine has been poorly maintained.