A total of 955 South African miners who were trapped below ground by a power cut on Wednesday 31 February 2018 were able to return to the surface safely after power was restored on the morning of Friday 2 February. The incident happened at the Sibanye-Stillwater Mining-owned Beatrix Gold Mine near Welkom, Free State, after an electricity pylon was struck by lightning. Medical examinations of the miners found that several were suffering from dehydration and high blood pressure, but no more serious problems were found.
Workers leaving the Beatrix Mine in Free State, South Africa, on 2 February 2018, after being trapped below ground for two days. AP.
The Beatrix Mine operates on 23 levels, with the deepest being about a kilometre below the ground. Workers at the higher levels were able to evacuate shortly after the power failure, but workers at deeper levels were trapped. Colleagues at the surface were able to lower food and water to the trapped men, but the experience has been described as 'traumatic', particularly as ventilation systems stopped in addition to the lifts. A back-up generator which should have come on when the outside power supply was cut also failed, the reason for this failure is still being investigated.
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