News Desk- Eyewitnesses say at least 22 people are said to be trapped underground at a rural coal mine in South Africa following a gas explosion, local media report.
Emergency staff were at the Gloria mine in Mpumalanga province, but it was too risky for them to try and rescue the trapped group because the of a lack of electricity.
The 22 were believed to be a part of a group of 42 who had been trying to steal electrical cables from the underground mine outside of Middelburg town, 165km (100 miles) east of the main city of Johannesburg, according to the South Africa’s Business Day newspaper.
The South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources said it had dispatched a team of inspectors to the mine.
Twenty of the group managed to return above ground, but the rest remained trapped, according to a release.
“The mine is currently not operational,” it said in a statement quoted by the IOL news site.
Those trapped were believed to be Lesotho nationals, the news site added.
The Gloria mine is part of the Optimum Coal assets, which the controversial Gupta family bought in 2016.
According to Business Day, many of the workers had not been paid since October and have not turned up for work since December.