Last South African Miners Freed

Minister vows to 'tighten up' mine safety laws, shuts down mine for 6 weeks
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2007 7:23 PM CDT
Miners walk past that were trapped at Elandsrand Gold mine near Carletonville, South Africa, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007. More than 1,700 trapped gold miners have been rescued during a dramatic all-night operation...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The last of more than 3,200 workers were lifted from a South African mine today after more than a day underground, BBC reports. "It was terrible," said one miner. "There was not enough air and they tried putting in more and ventilating the areas where we were trapped." The men were hauled out in groups of 75 without any serious injuries.

A federal minister vowed to "tighten up" mine safety rules and said the Harmony Gold Mining facility will be closed for a 6-week inspection. "I wouldn't call it a crisis given that mining is risky in its nature," the minister said, but a miners' rep blamed a non-stop work schedule for taking precedence over safety checks. "Our guys there tell us that they have raised concerns," the rep said.