South Africa races to free illegal miners from blocked shaft

Feb. 16, 2014 at 11:58 AM

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Police in South Africa said some of the miners trapped in an old shaft have been reluctant to come out because they fear they will be arrested.

The miners stuck in Johannesburg's East Rand on Sunday were working the abandoned gold mine illegally when they were trapped by an apparent cave in, CNN reported.

South Africa's ER24 Emergency Services said rescued miners were indeed taken into custody by police once they were checked out by medics at the scene.

As many as 200 people were said to be still stuck in the mine, although ER24 said the numbers could not be confirmed.

Also unconfirmed were allegations from the miners that a rival group had purposely blocked the entrance with boulders, CNN said.

Rescue crews Sunday brought in heavy equipment to stabilize the shaft and remove the rocks.

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