Underground fire traps gold miners

An underground fire has trapped nearly 30 miners at Newmont Waihi Gold's Trio mine.

The fire struck early this morning, however no miners have been reported as injured, with all 28 believed to have safely escaped into the underground rescue chambers.

According to the company the blaze was started after an underground mining truck's engine caught fire at around 5 AM this morning local time.

All operations have been halted.

A spokesperson for the mine said "all personnel are accounted for".

He went on to state that "as a result of the fire there is currently some smoke coming out of the mine's vent shaft on Union Hill," adding that "as the Trio is mine a hardrock gold mine there is no risk of mine explosion".

The miners were gathered in three refuge chambers in different parts of the mine, with two of these holding 13 workers, who have since been evacuated to the surface.

Approximately 15 miners are still trapped underground.

However, while the miners have escaped or are safely ensconced in refuge chambers there are now fears that the fire may start to fill the mine with toxic gases.

The New Zealand Mines Rescue Service and mine inspectors have been notified and are on their way to the mine, although the mines inspectors may take some time as they have to travel from Wellington.

Fellow New Zealand miner Solid Energy has also offered its assistance at this time.

Waihi Gold includes the Martha Mine open pit and Favona Underground mines in the town of Waihi, about 150km south of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. 

UPDATE

All miners have now been rescued.

 

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