- February 22, 2019
- Posted in Africa
Recovery operations of the remaining trapped bodies within the shaft at Gloria Coal Mine in Mpumalanga had to be halted on Friday due to severe smoke, the police have said.
It was reported that 13 bodies were retrieved, with more still underground. At least 22 men were trapped underground earlier this month after a gas explosion. Eighteen bodies have now been brought to the surface.
Work was hampered for the umpteenth time after one of the ventilation fans broke down, the Middelburg Observer reported earlier.
Proto teams were slowly making their way deeper into the shaft and came across seven bodies before they had to be pulled from the operation due to the breakdown. The mine had called upon technicians from Johannesburg to come and repair the extractor fan.
At least 13 bodies were retrieved on Friday and work will only continue again on Monday.
Mike Elliot, the communication liaison at the mine, informed Middelburg Observer that proto teams had been back at work since early on Thursday morning.
The teams experienced numerous challenges along the way when one of the walls in the shaft reflected on the blueprints was damaged by a blast, which caused a ventilation leak. Proto teams were doing repairs to the walls as they descended, by erecting “brattices” (a temporary wall made of tarpaulin) and fixing them to the wall over any holes caused by the blast.
The brattices are said to keep the fresh air from leaking out of the rescue routes.
The repairs were complete, and rescue teams were now moving to the estimated location at a fast pace.
Elliot went on to explain that people needed to understand that this was a time-consuming process.
“These guys that make up the proto teams are the best guys in the world and they also have the best equipment in the world.”
However, despite having state of the art equipment at their disposal, ventilation within the shaft is of utmost importance for the recovery, as the oxygen supply provided for each rescuer is to be reserved for emergency exits.